CaulynDarr and I got together for another test game today, where we tried out the new weapon ranges/modifiers, the new (smaller) armor penetration chart, and the new model stats. Certain things felt better, but overall we were missing the range to hit things, and the more compressed armor stats just didn't feel right. On the bright side though, we did finally get into some melee.
Here's the forces we used. Mine was pretty typical for our testing, but CaulynDarr got a much more Fallen-themed force, with lots of conscript infantry, more Paladins, and our first "Warcophagus". For which we used a GW Hellbrute model.
The knights were all given a significant speed boost, with the Dragoons getting a base move of 16", the regular knights 12", and the Paladins 8". In comparison, all the human infantry stayed at 6". We also simplified the movement such that the only thing difficult terrain did was prevent you from running through it.
This was a very nice change, and being able to zoom the knights around at high speed (instead of slogging behind the infantry) was quite gratifying. With my Dragoons, I was actually able to flank CD and move into the trees by his objective. Just sitting there and doing nothing, I was able to hold down a Legio and a conscript rifle unit. Which kept the Legios from supporting his advance.
The pre-game grenade toss worked in CD's favor too, putting nice teardrop shaped smoke barriers in front of his advancing infantry. But that didn't actually mean much game-wise, because...
The Weapon Ranges Were Too Short
For all of the weapon stats I prepared over the last few days, I stuck pretty closely to standard 40K ranges. Apart from a few exceptions like lasers and certain heavy weapons.
Which meant that CD was popping all that smoke, but I didn't have the range to hit him with anything but my autocannon, which is hardly an anti-infantry weapon. Even 2 turns into the game, there was barely any firing going on, and nobody felt the need to use grenades.
So I'm going to take the stats we have and re-calibrate them to 8" range bands instead of 6" ones. We're also going to get rid of range modifiers entirely except for shots over 48"
The Armor Penetration Chart Was Too Compressed
When I made up the 14 x 14 Armor Penetration table, I got a little uneasy with the visual complexity of it compared to the old 10 x 10 table. So I compromised a bit with what Eriochrome had wanted to see, and made the table 11 x 11 instead.
But that still compressed the range of armor values down, such that a Paladin had an Ar of only 1 point more than a Legio, rather than 2 more. Combined with a 1-point higher AP for the bolt rifles, that meant that CD's Paladins were suddenly much more susceptible to Legio bolt fire than they had been before. Which DID NOT please CaulynDarr (or me) at all.
So I'll be going with the 14x14 chart, and tweaking a lot of the stats.
Adding WS to Ac Was OK, But...
I didn't have time to get Excel and Photoshop working together properly, so that a pre-adjusted WS/AP/S could automatically be added to all the cards. So we went with a basic paper version instead. I didn't find adding the skills together mid-game to be all that annoying, but I do think that separating the stats this way contributed to some of the stat imbalances we saw. So I may just go back to a straight WS/BS after all.
We got some models (the Warcophagus and his Paladin Captain) into melee with one each of my guardsmen and... Well, the guardsmen couldn't even hit them and just died. It was rather underwhelming.
We stopped the game right there, and brainstormed a bit. Our thought is that that a model that moves into engagement with an enemy model should immediately force other enemy models within a certain distance (2" or so) into base-contact with themselves. This could even be a weapon stat. Attack me with a knife and you only face one model. A Sword might be 2", and a pike/halberd 3-4".
As CaulynDarr put it: "Visually, it just looks cooler, and like you're actually accomplishing something."
Hard to argue with that. :)