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A discussion on army variety and Helix product sales

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So something game to my mind as I was looking through the army lists for Planetfall with regard to the use of Helixes and it made me wonder. 

 

 

Firstly I totally understand why Spartan has gone for Helix approach over individual models. It makes the game lighter for stockists to shelve and easier for customers to purchase. I suspect it also helps discourage some degree of power-gaming because you have to take a whole helix not just individual units you want. So I'm not starting this to attack the core idea of Helix model sales. 

 

However I was thinking about army diversity and variety. At present the Helix constrains army design somewhat since the helix approach means that you can't just load up on one type of unit to the extreme. Even in multi-battleforce games you're still given some firm restrictions on what is and isn't allowed. 

 

Now this got me to thinking, if a player sees part or all of a helix go down they already know what is in that Helix. Even if you've partly got drop-troops the opponent already has a fair idea what will pop out of them and what to expect. Now of course you can vary what you do and don't put into the drop zones; you might not take any if the helix has them as optional; however the opposing player still gets a good idea. 

 

I think also it means that the game starts to become about Helix combos rather than the units themselves; which is somewhat defeated by the fact that a good few Helix are made up with leviathan or very dominant units so some of that effect is taken away.

 

 

 

However I was wondering if there'd be room within the game to introduce the concept of support for Helix. Adding a selection of boxed models which have properties that allow them to attach to any or several helix instead of being deployed as a helix of their own. Something that adds to the existing helix design but which also throws in a  bigger element of the unknown as well as more variety in army composition. 

 

 

 

I also wonder about the future as it seems in most wargames there's an element of fun to be had by capitalizing on games played between larger forces by default. Warhammer and Warmachine both have separate rules for allowing super-sized battles which takes advantage of those players who have more extensive collections and encourages others to consider having larger armies for the option of joining in; whilst at the same time not impeding smaller scale battles that hte game is focused upon. 

At present players have the option to just buy more helix boxed sets and add up more army groups. However I wonder if there wouldn't be room for some larger blocks of troops to add either as a special helix type or as a separate battlegroup of its own. Eg adding more basic troops and tanks rather than specialist units (as I see it many helix are focused around specialists). 

 

 

So that's two blocks of thought for expanding upon the helix design. I wonder if any others have similar thoughts or if there are other ideas which could build upon this design base. 

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The helix system to me is one of the things that works well for scaling the game up. Warhammer and Warmachine need a separate rules system for really big games, yet Planetfall does this inherently. The minimum game size is around 1k pts for Planetfall, literally taking a minimum core helix with about 3 units.  On the max out everything with a single battlegroup path we're looking at around 8.5-10k pts and about £310.50 or $450 invested (ex. is Dindrenzi). $450 is a midrange 40k force or 1-2 Apocalypse size vehicles.  :lol: Bear in mind right now that we have 6 fully released (for now and as of as of Feb 24th), 6 races ~12% released, and 6 more completely unreleased but listed races in the game. 12 of those we know can almost freely swap out helices with another race. (Natural allies only have the 50% pts limitation) We're not sure the alliance rules exactly with the other 6 and know nothing of the Marauders factions. (Likely Omnidyne will be Natural Allies with Directorate but not Works Raptor.) So we're looking at less than 42% of the assumed helixes having been released. There is ALOT of variety yet to come.

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Well the plan for multiple types of helices is already a known fact (Interceptor and Ground Attack Aerials), so that will spice up variety, and for example Spartan could always say "above 10.000 pts there is no restriction between opposing helices" to encourage biiig battles with everything you have + kitchen sink :) . Not to mention the soon to be expanded Allies (who will get their own Core, Heavy and other helices).

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Not wanting to dwell too much on the bigger games (I think 6K+ are going to be rare). The game is not at a stage where what your opponent brings is highly unpredicable, and the choices you make in list creation really do matter. In my last game with Zeph (3k Aquan vs. Dindrenzi) my opponent guessed I would bring my Ground attack helix (since they generally perform well) and so made a point to bring the Dindrenzi Recon helix, which bring the most cost effective anti-air weapons the Dindrenzi can field. 

 

Instead I brought my Leviathan which (thanks to some admittedly fortunate roles) brought destruction to the entire right flank. Considering a year ago the options were pretty much Heavy Support or whatever natural ally was available the game is certainly less rpedictable

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Agreed Aunshi,

 

Whilst playing a 3k game the other day my friend Ian commented "I didn't think you'd bring that" so I think there is plenty of variety now.

 

It's at this point though we need to think "how much freedom DO you want?" - After this release most factions have 2 varieties of Recon Lights, 2 Medium tanks (Din/Aqu), multiple flyers.

 

I can see more varied Infantry coming out maybe? Possibly more transport options for said infantry. We don't want to go mental though. The whole idea in the Firestorm system is that the races and alliances give you the variance, not just within that race. The race IS the variance. We have far more than most games in that respect. Compared to say DZC with 4 races - each race has quite a lot of options. With 6 Core races and 6+ Alliance races, you can cut that variety out in favour of more varied Helixes using Alliances etc. Otherwise the model count becomes too large for stores to stock and players to keep track.

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Not sure about variety of new models, but I think it would be cool to have different variations of Helices:

 

Like a support helix which just contains the medium tanks (either the new assault & the battle tanks, or the battle tanks & tank destroyers) and their respective support tanks. 

 

Or a Core with a different composition.

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I agree, some more variation is never wrong. I'd really like to see some more mediums on the table (something I really liked with Invasion, MBTs really was the mainstay of both forces!), either just regular MBTs, or some variation of Mediums (with perhaps a single Heavy for support). I could see it in either the Support Slot, or the (Heavy) Armoured slot.

Perhaps something for a campaign book in the future?

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WE DON'T NEED MORE MBT'S!  :blink:

 

The Two in the Core, one in each heavy (I know they're specialty tanks but), and most of the Field supports have MBT size elements. Main Battle Tanks are EVERYWHERE!

 

 

Wait your talking Medium Battle Tanks....

 

More seriously, there is alot of variety available using the current helices. Effort put into alt helices for the primary races will be very limited till we get the other 12 races released at the minimum. Perhaps even till the Marauders can make an appearance.

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One thing that led me down this line of thought and it comes up again with the suggestion of larger bodies of medium takes is that that was one thing the old Planetfall had. Granted part of that was lack of diversity of models but they had 9 medium tacks in a pack or somesuch and with the view of putting down way more in games.

 

Having full on large scale battles similar to what we got in the Epic 40K days - although I fully admit that Spartan's line is generally a bigger line of models. 

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Have you tried what has been termed the "T-34" list?

 

In a planetfall tournament it was the winning Directorate list which used two maxed out cores to overrun the opposition with many many cheap Directorate tanks. And a Leviathan. 

 

It worked. 

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Yes Max, I meant MBT as in Medium Battle Tank (although I'd argue that it should still be the most common line unit, and hence Main Battle Tank, but that is open for debate )

No argument that the current Helices are saturated, though... We've got what, the Recon Helix that (usually) does not contain a Heavy?

And sure, they are a minor part of the whole, and with the new Assault Helices we get even more Mediums, so I'm definitely in agreement with having plenty of options...

 

 

Overread: I've been thinking along the same lines... And not only because I've got 18 Tarxos Valenfyres that I some day need to squeeze into some kind of army list. 

It is just the image of a full front line of Mediums is so evocative... (Then again, I play Aquans mainly... Without a proper 'front line', and my Heavies are usually the ones to do some actual damage, so I might be barking up the wrong tree with this line of though...)

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For me it brings back fond memories of Red Alert playing as the soviets - charging in armies of heavy-tanks (which were basically their main battle tank) with their twin barrel turrets blasting everything, backed up with a couple of mammoth tanks. For some reason they never again used a twin barrelled tank after in the series barring the mammoth.

 

Granted I'm mostly collecting Retholza so not really any "tanks" there but the idea of larger bodies of mid-range "tankyness" in battles sounds good to me

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The Directorate can do the Medium hull Swarm list better than most... Regular Mediums, APCs and dual Trojans (OK, the Terrans can do the same with Ullrs) end up being a lot of hulls.

 

Still, I might take a page out of the Tarxos Orbat at some point, and house rule a Medium Squadron as a Command Element for a Core Helix (obviously with opponent consent), just to give it a try.

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