This is going to be an entirely negative article/post/whatever. If that's not your thing then please feel free to skip it, I'm not going to go over anything entertaining.
SymbioMates and Tohaa
Well Monday has come and gone and I find myself being incredibly frustrated with Infinity. Some of this is due to one-time events but some of it is a trend. I'm going to speak about two things in particular: Missions and SymbioMates, with a few other topics touched on here and there.
I'll start with SymbioMates since that is the most recent but less complex topic. For those who don't know SymbioMates were heavily changed and now give a flat 9 ARM / 9 BTS along with Total Immunity for the Order they're spent on. You also MUST use a SymbioMate if you take any kind of hit, there's no choice anymore.
On face value this didn't look like that bad of a nerf although four SymbioMates is no longer attractive, at least to me. I got my first two games with the change and my current opinion is that SymbioMates are 100% useless. Right now SymbioMates are one of the easiest things to play around in the entire game, they have no place in the Reactive Turn of the Tohaa Player. That part doesn't bother me since I already play that way, any model that is left where an enemy can get LoF to it should be assumed to be dead. Tohaa just joined the ranks of that which I know is annoying to some who liked to play the ARO game.
What bothers me is SymbioMates don't do what they're supposed to do anymore. ARM 12 with Cover is very high but still failable against even small arms. Tohaa is now even weaker to Templates than we were before and it was a big weakness, we have very few models who are good at Dodge and since we move around in Triads you get bang for your buck. We've also lost all the tricks SymbioMates could do, most people know about the running through the open to get to a Console or something but you can also no longer decide to take ARM/BTS on things like Pistols or Flash Pulses, you can't pick a fight while also triggering Deployable Weapons, you can't use the SymbioMate to safely reposition.
The core of the issue is Corvus Belli made a very bad decision to listen to bad players. Bad players complain about SymbioMates being too good, full stop. They weren't complex to play around and you had to take a very expensive model in comparison to what you get in return to even unlock them, that was the balancing factor. This is the first time I've seen CB do this and it's not a good thing, especially when you're targeting one of the rarest armies to see on the tabletop and you're also soft removing them from the game for now by retiring a ton of SKUs. Overall I'm disappointed in CB as a company for caving to bad players and making an unnecessary change.
As if that wasn't bad enough the change also ruined numerous models in Tohaa. The most obvious is the Gorgos, a mid-tier TAG that only saw play because it could shrug off big hits, SymbioMates do almost nothing for the model except for Total Immunity. The Rasail was the next biggest hit, it could actually eat Templates or a stray hit and keep the SymbioMate for other things. That's been removed since it's mandatory to use now, meaning the Rasail loses a lot of her staying power and decision making. Finally the Kaeltar Specialist itself is now an awful model regarding the 21pt profile, this needs to be dropped to 18-19 as compensation but I know it won't be.
My biggest issue is how little CB understand their own rules with regards to the nerf. Tohaa DO rely on SymbioMates to work, you can see that in the fact that almost every single Symbiont Armor model gets SIGNIFICANTLY worse when they're Symbiont Inactive. So far this trend has continued in Spiral Corps, without SymbioMates guaranteeing you stay Symbiont Active numerous models are significantly downgraded. As it currently stands Tohaa massively overpays for models that are worse than having NWI because they can't be Doctored back to full and they lose abilities which are make or break for those models. Frankly I'm disgusted by how stupidly CB have handled Tohaa and spit in the faces of the people who collected the army, that's something I'd expect from Games Workshop.
Moving onto Missions, practicing the packet for Rumble on Route 66 has made me want to quit the game. This is partially the fault of the organizers for choosing to use such horrific Missions but most of the blame is again on Corvus Belli for incompetent playtesting. Let me go through each individually:
The only good Mission in the packet because first and second Turn are balanced and the Mission is interesting. You have to balance attrition versus points, get to the center, and do Classifieds. This is what every Mission in the ITS Packet should aspire to be.
Relies way too much on luck and mind games for a rule set already heavily reliant on both luck and mind games. First Turn has a huge advantage, second Turn gets very little. Creates tons of feel bad interactions regarding guessing the Designated Target to the point I have never played or seen a game of this Mission where both Players had fun.
If you go first you win and there's nothing else to the Mission. Heavily penalizes Factions without Infiltrating/Forward Deployment L2 Specialists because there's no Exclusion Zone in a Mission that begs for one.
Needs an Exclusion Zone to mitigate the overwhelming First Turn advantage, also needs something for the second player to be advantaged by. Replace the Panoplies with one Console in the center and make it worth 2 Points instead of 1, done.
Needs both an Exclusion Zone and a clause stating the Designated Targets cannot be attacked until Turn 2. As is the only way to play, going second, without an insane ARO build (very few armies can do this) is to give up the HVT, take theirs, and play for Lieutenants and Army Points. Horribly boring Mission and one of the most poorly written in the entire packet.
This adds up to a packet where 4/5 Missions give a gigantic advantage to the First Player, meaning the game is largely decided by the Lieutenant Roll. This should NEVER be the case in Infinity, part of the beauty of the game is creating asynchronous advantages. I don't know how the ITS Packet differs this Season compared to others but the current offering is barely acceptable for competitive play, almost every Mission needs a revision to balance it out. Some of what I've discussed can be balanced out with Terrain but that will never, ever happen at even a locally sized event because TO's would have to change the tables every round. For example Decapitation absolutely requires an alcove for both Player's where they have to come all the way around to see the Designated Target.
This creates a very "feel bad" atmosphere for the Player going second because there's nothing they can do. Do you give up your entire army to hold them off for one turn? Okay then you lose because you have no army. Do you hide your army and let them do the Mission? Then you lose because now you have to do the Mission and fight against an entrenched opponent. It really is that simple, of course you don't lose going second 100% of the time but I'd say it's about 70-30 given two equally skilled players. Ideally First Turn should be a 55-45 advantage at best, wake up Corvus Belli!
Tomorrow the Daedalus update drops and that will be the first step in determining if I stay with Tohaa, move to Spiral Corps, or move to another army entirely. If I'm forced to move to another army the odds that I quit the game go up quite a bit, I'm not buying and paying for another army to be painted. Overall I still adore Infinity but Missions are HUGE part of the game for CB to fuck up so badly and it's clear they don't understand some of their Factions with the way they've been changed. As is my lists need drastic overhauls and that's certainly adding to my pissed off demeanor but really I'm just bummed that there's been so much incompetence shown by the Corvus Belli lately. Maybe sit back and actually think for two seconds before you pump out the next book.