Season 1 Playtest Results: Mercenaries

To assist with the community vote, the IACP Steering Committee presents these summaries of the Playtest Survey. Most of the Deployment changes in this faction involved melee units, and our playtesters found most to be reasonable but still suffering from the weaknesses all melee units share in the modern Skirmish game. These results are current as of Saturday, June 29th.

Elite Gamorrean Guard (cost reduced from 8/4 to 7/4)

Power Ratings:
Strong: 3; Balanced: 18; Underpowered: 5
Fun Ratings:
Not Fun: 2; Neutral: 5; Fun: 10; Very Fun: 4

For most of the price changes, the Steering Committee was looking for deployments that might become viable with a small decrease in deployment cost. We felt like Elite Gamorrean Guard was a good candidate, since it would also provide Mercenary lists with figures that could protect the fragile Hunters’ line-of-sight and punish opponent figures that get too close. In the written responses that mentioned Elite Gamorrean Guards, our playtesters approved the new price point; a few testers lamented that the figures can still be too easily defeated by queen pieces like Vader and hard-hitting Hunters; several other mentioned that they could use more help in pushing damage through defenses, even with their Professional reroll.

We think the Elite Gammorean Guard, like other melee units in the game, struggle with juggling being able to survive attacks and doing enough damage when finally committed to the attack. Additionally, the Guardian trait still lacks the improvements given to other traits since the release of Jabba’s Realm. The Steering Committee will be looking at ways to improve both melee figures and the Guardian trait in the future, which should help the Elite Gamorrean Guard make more of an impact in your game.

Rancor (cost reduced from 10 to 9)

Power Ratings:
Strong: 1; Balanced: 8; Underpowered: 7
Fun Ratings:
Not Fun: 1; Neutral: 6; Fun: 6; Very Fun: 1

When the Season 1 changes were announced, we saw a lot of excitement for using the Rancor again at its reduced price point. It’s an iconic monster and a fantastically-made physical miniature that is sadly still limited by being a Massive melee figure. A few of our testers mentioned how good Command card draw and very fortunate defense rolls allowed their Rancors to really shine. But when those benefits aren’t there, the Rancor still struggles against constant attacks from Hunters or queen pieces like Vader. When presented with those disappointing results, other testers suggested dropping the Rancor’s price down to 8. We’re not for sure if that would provide a balanced Health-to-figure-cost ratio, but we do understand how upgrade cards like Beast Tamer and dedicated support figures like Gideon seem necessary for the Rancor.

As mentioned above, the Steering Committee is investigating ways to improve melee figures in general. If those ways prove the fruitful, we would want to revisit the Rancor and see what else (if anything) needs to be done. Otherwise, it seems our playtesters agree with us that dropping the Rancor’s cost to 9 is a good start.

Shyla Varad (cost reduced from 8 to 7)

Power Ratings:
Strong: 6; Balanced: 21; Underpowered: 4
Fun Ratings:
Neutral: 6; Fun: 14; Very Fun: 4

Suggesting a points drop for Shyla Varad was a very easy decision to make for the Steering Committee. Shyla’s fun abilities and playstyle was mostly hampered by the 8-point commitment a Mercenary player would have to make; there were just too many efficient and cheap Hunters that didn’t have to do melee attacks. Our playtesters found that she fit perfectly as a 7-point figure and performed well on the smaller maps in the rotation… while still having the issues that almost all melee figures have in the game.

Several of our playtesters decided to combine Shyla with the new Diala Passil Elite Deployment card. The idea was that both figures could drag opponents away from cover and set up Parting Blow combos with each other. These testers found that the strategy could be successful but put both figures at risk for retaliation. With Shyla only having 12 Health and Diala having 10, our playtesters found that they would lose one of the figures pretty quickly and still need to find a way to run the other away. Most players found this to be a fair penalty for the combo that rewards skilled play.

Maul (cost reduced from 7 to 6)

Power Ratings:
Overpowered: 2; Strong: 2;
Balanced: 16; Underpowered: 8
Fun Ratings:
Not Fun: 1; Neutral: 6; Fun: 8; Very Fun: 1

Reducing Maul’s cost was an attempt to have him be competitively priced compared to the more efficient Hunters available to Mercenaries. Our playtesters found that Maul was still Maul: a situationally-deadly closer whose attack pool swings wildly between disappointing and powerful. Several of our testers offered more improvements for Maul, like a static +1 EVADE, an attacking reroll, or even changing Stalk Prey to be a start-of-round ability. The Steering Committee would like to see what changes can be made for all melee figures first before attempting to modify Maul again.

Elite Wing Guard (cost reduced from 9/3 to 7/3)

Power Ratings:
Overpowered: 1; Balanced: 4;
Underpowered: 7; Very Weak: 1;
Fun Ratings:
Not Fun: 3; Neutral: 3; Fun: 1; Very Fun: 1

Of all the changes made for Season 1, the Elite Wing Guard inspired the least amount of excitement and gathered the least amount of feedback: We received just one written reference about it that expressed that the deployment was unimpressive. It shares the distinction with Ko-Tun Feralo & Elite Echo Base Trooper as a Deployment that received more “Not Fun” and “Neutral” ratings than the more positive values. We feel like Elite Wing Guard are another example of a Deployment that doesn’t have a simple price adjustment that would allow the figure to be balanced and fun to play with and against. As we mentioned before, looking at buffing the Trooper and Guardian traits is something we’d like to explore in future Seasons. When we do, we may revisit the Elite Wing Guard and see if there is more to be done.

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