Points as Power

Game Theory

The forum is always stoking a discussion about varies troops in Infinity being overpowered or underpowered.  An occasionally credible naysayer will say, “No, anything can work,” which is true, but I think the fundamental point that player frustrations center around is not specific combos of units, but the relative costs of their abilities.  This is an article inspired from a recent Infinity Discord chat with Teslarod on the topic.


So, I’ll point to a couple of PanOceania units who were recently complained about:  the ORC, the Bolt, and the Auxilia.  Let’s start with the Auxilia:

AuxiliaPanOPointsAsPower

The only pricing issue here is that the core Auxilia unit himself costs 10 points when he should cost 9.  There is an inscrutable 1 point tax that the Auxilia pays for nothing, and isn’t really warranted, when you compare to units like the Kerail.

Trimming a point off of each profile would help to empower the Auxilia, but more importantly, would allow a little more wiggle-room to listbuilding.


But “points are power”.  You wouldn’t need to throw on ODD to make the Auxilia a real terror.  Let’s cut the cost in half.  Imagine that the humble Auxilia only costed 7 points, including his Auxbot.  Now, whoa, look out for this thing:  A 7-point Auxilia would be its own kind of trouble, as PanO players smothered your table in bullets and flames, and grumbles of “overpowered” would follow everywhere they went.  And this Auxilia wouldn’t just be a cheap unit―he would be a cheap unit who also supplied orders to better units.

NeoterraBoltPanOPointsAsPower

In a vacuum, the Bolt isn’t a worthless unit.  The Bolt Hacker is actually a hidden gem, since BTS6+Bioimmunity+Veteran makes him far more resistant to Killer Hackers than the average hacker.  If you want to throw in a buff Hacker who can stay alive, Bolt Hacker is your man.

But the Bolt is still generally and rightly viewed as an underpowered unit.  Why?  BS13, Shotguns, Veteran, etc, are good.

The problem is the cost.  Imagine if that basic Bolt costed 12 points.  Would you take Neoterran Bolt fireteams more often in the Neoterra sectorial?  Would you take Bolts in generic PanOceania?  Definitely.  Probably every time.  And many people would call them an “overpowered” unit for 12 points.


Now, Bolts can’t realistically cost 12 points, but there are ways for Infinity to empower the Bolt without changing any of the existing skills or adding new ones.

The first power sink of the Bolt is the Combi+Light Shotgun pricing.  After I’ve pointed it out to you, you’ll notice this problem everywhere (Bao, Bagh-Mari, Rodok, Maakrep, etc.).  The Combi+Light Shotgun is underpowered because it is overpriced.

If you swing over to Haqqislam and look at the basic Rifle+Light Shotgun profiles, you can deconstruct that that combination costs the same as a Combi Rifle.  What’s going on with Bolts and Baos and Bagh-Mari, then?  Light Shotguns cost 3 points.  Added to a Combi Rifle, Light Shotguns cost 4 points, bizzarely!  So let’s fix that.  A Light Shotgun with a Combi Rifle now costs +1 point, instead of +4 points.  (It’s fair as roughly the same as a basic Rifle+Light Shotgun, since you rarely fire Combi rounds where the Shotgun rounds get the BS+6.)

While we’re at it, let’s also drop the situational Bioimmunity skill from 2 points to 1 point.

Okay, so now, the basic Combi+Light Shotgun Bolt now costs 18 points, instead of 22.  All other Bolts would drop by 1 point.  Is that game-breaking?

I don’t think so.  There would still be a very credible reason to choose Fusiliers over Bolts in Neoterra, and Fusiliers or Regulars over Bolts in generic PanOceania.  But the new pricing empowers the Bolts without strapping on new skills or stats.

ORCPanoPointsAsPower

This one is pretty simple.  To go from BS13―the average BS value of standard HI―to BS14, the ORC pays 4 points.  Is that worth it?

Outside of PanOceania, maybe.  Within PanOceania, with its superheavies like Swiss Guard and various TAGs, BS14 isn’t a remarkable advantage.  Roll over to Nomads to see the Mobile Brigada, who gain Courage and WIP+1, but pay 2 points less, and you can understand the grumbling of Tohaa’s allies.

This is a context issue or scaling cost, and could be resolved by simply costing BS14 equivalent to the Courage and WIP bonus of its enemy counterpart.  An HMG Rifle ORC costing 42 points would be sure to see a bit more play.


But “points are power”.  Imagine if the MULTI Rifle ORC costed just 25 points.  No new skills, just a price cut.

You can be sure, given a month, thread after thread would appear about the broken-ass PanOceania Haris teams of ORCs causing problems in every ITS event that they appeared in.


However, using extant costs, there are other ways to empower units, just by modifying their profiles with existing Infinity point values:

ZhanshiYuJingPointsAsPower

Imagine that there was an SMG Zhanshi profile.  That unit would cost 6 points.  Would Yu Jing players spam them for orders?  I expect so.  These Zhanshi would almost certainly be overpowered in comparison to Keisotsu and Kuang Shi.

Worse still, imagine that there was a Killer Hacker Device program on one of these SMG Zhanshi.  It would cost only 9 points.

Now, at 0 SWC and 9 points, every meta with Yu Jing would be flooded with cheap Killer Hacker Zhanshi, murdering enemy hackers and Suppressive Firing their SMGs to their hearts’ content.  Price alone would break that Zhanshi.

ZeratCombinedArmyPointsAsPower

Similar power potential here:  Zerats are very unloved, and very under-taken.  So imagine that the basic Zerat had an SMG instead of a Combi Rifle, and gained a Sensor.

That Zerat would cost only 17 points, and you can bet your bottom that Morat players would happily field at least 1 such Zerat in every list.

Imagine further that that Sniper Zerat had a Shock Marksman Rifle instead of a MULTI Sniper Rifle, which would cost 0 SWC and only 22 points.  Would Morat players take that, too?  I certainly expect so.

You could go a step further and add Albedo to each Zerat, bumping the price up by 2 points each, but making them “camouflaged” against Visors.

At 19 points, a camo-sensing visor-ignoring shock-and-fire-armed infiltrator would turn the Zerat from a “broken” unit (because it currently sucks) into a “broken” again (because it would approach Ghazi- and Proxy-levels of power).

GhaziMuttawiahHaqqislamPointsAsPowerPosthumanProxiesALEPHPointsAsPower

On that note, as a Q.E.D., price is the primary problem of Ghazis and Posthuman Proxies.  You could fix Ghazis just by increasing the base cost to 0.5 SWC and 9 points, and you could fix Poshtumans by slapping 6-12 points to the price of each Proxy.  No nerfs to their skills or abilities necessary.


Now, I don’t actually want the ORC to cost 25 points, but you get the idea.  When you’re talking about units being “overpowered” or “underpowered”, what you should probably being pointing out is that they are “underpriced” or “overpriced”.

And be careful when suggesting combos that are too cheap or too synergistic, since a combo that is too good can throw off the balance of not only the faction it is in, but all other factions that it opposes.  Corvus Belli does listen to us, the fans, so we probably shouldn’t want 6-point Zhanshi running around, for the health of our game.

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2 thoughts on “Points as Power

  1. You’re a maniac for cranking this out as fast as you did. Kudos for your dedication mate!

    This really needs to be public knowledge, especially the conclusion.
    “Make troop X cheaper” “Make troop Y more expensive” simply isn’t possible with the current system.

    Points are a result of stats, skills and equipment. Some troops have unique skills that ended up making them cheaper like G;Jumper resulting in a 30-40% rebate or strong equipment/weapons that are really cheap for what they do like Jammer/SMG.

    Simply making stuff cheaper for a single troop doesn’t work with Infinity’s pricing system and that is really awesome. It helps a lot to balance things when every faction pays the same for stats, guns and equipment, while the balancing is handled by combination, availability and SWC. So Bolts cost as much as they do because their stats, gear and equipment adds up to exactly those points.

    Just like you show here this system isn’t perfect and could use adjustments. Zhanshi, Bolts, the Combi+LSG combination among other things are the drawbacks of not having a lot of powercreep and overoptimized troops on the top end.

    For now I have high hopes that the next book will adress the majority of those problems. Even if that might take until 2022 or whenever N4 could be realistic …

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    1. We may be seeing only halfway eye-to-eye, here. I do think a great deal of balance could be brought simply by adjusting prices on things. The Light Shotgun atop Combis, as above. But other things, too, like traditional BS weapons on Impetuous troops―basically all of those could use a reduction of 1-4 points to see play outside of fireteams. Assault hackers would certainly see more play with a price drop of 1 or 2 points. Conversely, killer hackers might deserve a price hike, if the other hacking device prices must stay the same. Regeneration, automedikit, bioimmunity, the Morat skill, the Shasvastii skill, the Feuerbach, the Light Grenade Launcher, many AD skills, many HI and TAGs―a flying leap in balance would be made if most of these entities got a discount, even a very gentle discount.

      The other alternative, of course, is rule changes. Like, I think Submachine Guns should lose Suppressive Fire, absolutely. They do the same thing as a MULTI Rifle in SF ARO, but at 9 points less. Automedikits and Regeneration, the typical “tax” equipment, would be a thing to marvel and envy if they gave you an optional PH roll to try at the end of each turn, without spending an Order. Feuerbachs would be a fascinating weapon if they gained B3 and Suppressive Fire, but had no +3 range. Airborne Deployment could be given a way to work in ARO. Hell, let AD work in ARO in some way, and half the AD troop profiles suddenly become relevant! But to suggest changes like that is much more difficult to gain consensus on.

      As it is, though, as I say in my article, the simplest request to make is just to soften the cost of the thing that is imbalanced, rather than brute forcing a rules change. The upcoming Kamaus, for example, needn’t turn into Marauders, they just need to not be 16-points for the base profile.

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