Rapid fire feedback

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Axiam's picture
Axiam
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Rapid fire feedback

Hello Master Enos!

I've been putting off writing this because I wasn't sure where to begin and I'm quite fond of my ninja list and have felt that rapid fire (RF) has been the punch they need to mitigate their low number of models in a warband so there may be some bias in the below but I will try to give an accurate balanced view of my experiences so far.

I've played 4 tournaments (16 competitive games at 42 rice) and 4 friendly battles with them (also 42 rice) So I cannot comment on rapid fire's effect on 50 rice games.

My first tournament was without any Ranged attacks, I'd played two games prior to entering and quickly realised that hth combat should be a last resort with ninjas and not the method to win games. Coming away from that tournament i felt the ninjas i'd chosen were fragile, easily out numbered, once bogged down in melee, and often on the back foot (I was using Katsumi, Rin,  Shizuka and Yuto; not models that should be struggling in melee). With zone control and scenario actions being required I felt it wasn't going to be an easy ride as a ninja player!

 I took my learnings from that tournament and studied the other available ninjas and decided that what I needed were sure fire ways to stay mobile, and this meant keeping out of combat by other means than side step defence. So, Shizuka became soulless and she and ghost took disguises, I took smoke bombs, and with bikou now available figured shuriken attacks were the best way to whittle down my opponents without getting bogged down in btb combat.

I practiced this against Ben and discovered that a shuriken in the back was a great way to take out a model (+1Success Level (SL) and 3 dice for damage thanks to surprise), so I worked on ways to engineer multiple surprised targets in a single activation for my two hail of Steel users (prediction really helps with this). After this battle Ben stopped being my friend (only joking he still let me be his best man for his wedding) and I won the next tournament I went to using all the sneaky ninjas tricks to guarantee good success levels for my shuriken Ranged attacks for every rapid fire.

Since then I've been tweaking the list slightly to try new things (different theme, subbed Kerasu in for Kouhei) and suddenly found myself struggling again. People had been abusing rapid fire so opponents were aware of it and taking measures to counter it (mostly by not enabling me to get in behind them or using models/enhancements that give ranged defence, aware or sixth sense).

So with the back ground done here is a summary of what I've experienced with rapid fire:

~ It can feel devastating to be on the receiving end of RF, when you make a mistake, and only have a small number of models in play. So I understand why people fear it.

~ shurikens are not good at doing damage into target level 5+ and are still hit and miss against 4+ so just being at short range still requires a very good roll to cause anything like useful damage.

~ the other side to that coin is that shurikens can be very effective from a short range surprise causing position when coupled with Assassin and on occasions prone (ninjas excel at engineering these). TL 3 or 2 respectively is very easy to gain good success levels against and as mentioned above 3 dice choosing highest 2 for damage means you'll often get 3-6 success levels and do 4-6 damage per shot as a result. Very helpful when you need to wipe a couple of models to enable scenario objective success.

~ other ways in which rapid fire is strong is that, unlike combat (unless you have martial prowess), you usually only get one chance to gain a good success level. RF gives multiple chances to roll big, it's still rare but occasionally one of those rolls will be in the 4-6 SL category and make the RF seem very powerful.

~ from the front and short range my average damage output with shurikens and no 6s is usually around 1-2 damage if I'm lucky, so if I roll high damage rolls on all three shots and they didn't have Ranged defence or toughness I might get 6 damage against the opponent. In my latest tournament not one of my RF3s killed a model in a single activation, although they did set up a shuriken shot from a different model to gain the last Hp or two in damage to finish the opponent's model off.

~ Arashi's fan on a model with lots of Hp  (kenzo in this particular case) meant that even with surprise benefits I was not causing enough damage to put a significant dent in the model. I hit him with three RF3s and he survived the battle to help my opponent beat me 2-1.

~ people think Ranged attacks are over powered because they don't get to roll defence against it like in hth, however people can increase target levels using enhancements and having good positioning (cover), which is actually better than getting to roll because you can guarantee a target level. Of course when Minuro double 6s his shot against your model through cover there isn't a lot you can do about it but pray the damage roll is bad, which is the same for powerful attack capable models in hth.

~ I agree that having 4 models capable of RF3 in a war band is probably too much and to be fair it would limit what else you are able to do so I wouldn't run it (Wamu and Ujimushi create this balance issue but some models can blanket ruin that plan- thunder version Matsu Tak for e.g.)

In summary, there are circumstances that can make RF seem over powered but people are aware of this and are designing better warbands and playing anti range positioning smarter. The Tengu have forced people to consider how they play against Ranged so they are better at dealing with it now. The option to sub in Ranged defence against range heavy lists in tournaments is also making RF more balanced.

RF is mostly powerful when used against models with additional debuffs that make scoring a strong success level easier and don't require 6s. The extra chance to roll 6s to secure a big hit, by having multiple rolls, essentially works like having extra activations and command, so this should be considered when proposing any balancing effect (ninjas don't get a lot of activations without this trait but the inability for the opponent to react to the shots makes RF almost better-situationally having more activations would be better for scenario objectives rather than killing).

With the above in mind I would recommend the following for consideration:

shot opponents should no longer be surprised for subsequent shots in the same activation, to balance the 'command' like nature of the feat.

To reduce 4 RF3 spam: restricting RF feats to one friendly model per turn would still give plenty of threat from RF but restrict the amount of chipping health away from the front it is able to do in quantity; this also reduces the effect of the increased activations aspect. 4 RF3 models would have an effective attack activation count of 16 activations so 4 models would be the equivalent of 8 models using command, which is silly. 

Anyway, I hope the above ramblings have been helpful! 

 

All the best,

Axiam

Ret-darkframboisier's picture
Ret-darkframboisier
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there's an update in progress in the ret barrack, we'll test it this week end, give feedback to master enos. But in all regards, we're adressing this issue right now!

Wogshrog
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Joined: 17/10/2016

Thanks for sharing Axiam, I do agree with you and I'm convinced RF needs a change. Mostly because it's way too effective but also because if you want to be competitive as a Ninja player you have to play with at least 2 models with it.

I'd like to share more about the update after this w-e to get more people point of view but for now it's Ret only so I'm still feeling lucky to be able to test it. ( I should be beating Ret-darkframboisier tomorrow! )

Also don't worry about losing friends, it happened to me a lot too ;)

GCT Master Enos's picture
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Bushido is a game of spikes, with ranged attacks just compare a double 1 roll to a double 2 for example; or a double 5 to double 6.  At each end of the spectrum of dice the result changes by more than it does in the middle.

As you say with Ranged, those defenses (Arashi's Fan or even just Cover) are guaranteed SL reductions, but that also applies to the debuffs which ninjas can apply very reliably (Indeed distraction, the Kusari Knock down and 2 other shots can all be done by a single model - and those without Kusari can have Blind bombs).
This means most ninja shots are at target number 2 and have Assassin, it also means that with multiple shots, the chance for that spike, where you get multiple 6s is high.

To be honest, multiple shots are causing issues elsewhere too, Wasupu is part of a very strong SMS list, Tengu "5 stuns/turn" is a problem, Minuro hasn't been complained about recently but he can still kill 2 models in a turn with enough Ki.  Kahime has also featured, especially with Large opponents for being able to put out two Poison 2 markers with a ranged hit on 2 separate models.  The chances of killing 2 models on turn 2 (Granted it is over 2 turns with poison) is very high.

Its not that we think ranged shouldn't be deadly, in reality people can die to arrows and knives and lightning summoned by the storm god...  wait, not that last one.  So they can in Bushido, but doing it very reliably to multiple models more than makes up for Ninjas outnumbering issues.

The solution needs to address these issues without becoming a problem for the other ranged options and without making these models affected redundant.  
As mentioned above, its with the retainers now, I don't want to put it here before we finalise the wording to make sure people are playing the right rules while building up to Masters.

Currently the plan is to put the final version on the forums and then play it as Masters, it will go in the Errata after masters.

Grand Master of Bushido (Smog Con '14)

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just my 2 cents, i understand why you are doing that with the masters comming up but i think you should put all versions out for testing in the wild, more play testers is always better you are less likely to miss anything. 

anyways i look forward to the new ranged rules, as i prefer melee (apart from my last tourney list) 

cheers for the work

Wogshrog
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GCT Master Enos wrote:

in reality people can die to [...] lightning summoned by the storm god...  wait, not that last one. 

We need more tengu summoning the storm god !

Mr Looker's picture
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Ninja's should have a card or maybe a model that spawns shadow clones of itselfs like how the small rat swarms are made could even be same stats as small swarms

 

GCT Master Enos's picture
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Mr Looker wrote:

Ninja's should have a card or maybe a model that spawns shadow clones of itselfs like how the small rat swarms are made could even be same stats as small swarms

 

"Decoy" is on the list for the next set of KKZ cards.  Its not exactly what you suggest but similar.

Grand Master of Bushido (Smog Con '14)

Ret-Fleafa's picture
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Joined: 24/05/2013

Wow, that's a lot of thoughts!

I like the idea of the target model being given the option to turn to face the active model following a Ranged Attack, rather than discount Surprised after the first shot, which would be clumsy to add to the list of modifiers.

Anyway, Axiam, I need to get you to playtest Master Enos' proposed changes with me soon. I'll be in touch!

Axiam's picture
Axiam
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Ok well now that I have the worms it'll be interesting to see what impact there is with and without 4RF3. I've had a thought on what I'd play if the changes put RF3 significantly out of action too so it'll be interesting to try that 50 rice list. Also A) it's me so yeah lots of thoughts B) RF3 gives a lot to debate and isn't going to be easily fixed without making ninjas even harder to play.

Axiam

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