Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Bionic Game: Sedition Wars rules update, a rundown of the changes

Studio McVey just put out their updated rules for Sedition Wars.

The Rules are here.

The cards are here.

With a few comments, the entirety of the changes in the update to Sedition Wars. Yellow highlights represent more notable changes, and red comments are ones I feel are more noteworthy.

Note, this is being noted in order. I'll try to change earlier statements if things are clarified later, but may have missed some...

The Rulebook
Page 2: fluff clarification

Page 4 (orig. p5): "Board sections" added; A number of sections have been re-shuffled and clarified.  They clearly displayed the formula for a successful hit. "Tactical Data Cards" is now just a reference to another page.

Page 5 (orig. p6):   They added an explicit list of what blocks vectors. This is huge, and a big step away from the game's original flaw of a lack of clarity.

Zones were clarified, and they fixed their example.

There's still some strange wording on what corners are. This may get resolved later.

Page 6 (orig. p4): I like that they stuck the details after explaining the basics (I believe unchanged except for the new placement).

Page 7: clarifications

Page 8: the Activation Phase callout has been overhauled so it makes sense.

Again, this is a huge leap forward. The core game didn't work very well without this.

Movement was clarified a bit, especially regarding windows.

Page 9: White doors are now automatic, which I'm sure will alter some rooms' dynamics.

Page 10: in an interesting change (or clarification, depending on how you look at it), you may now redeclare your attack if it was illegal.

Close range no longer specifies close combat only. (I'm guessing this will have to do with pistols)

Attacking out of range is no longer an option. There were some issues with this, glad they removed it.

Page 11: clarifications that most sane players would have assumed.

Page 12: I'm glad they moved the first half of page 13 here. It flows better, now.

For some reason, they added an "Obviously," where I don't think the scenario was obvious.

Firing into Close Combat now has a static modifier, neither reflecting the original or errata'd versions of this rule.

Page 13: Abilities were hugely clarified.

Page 14: Inversion is worded differently, with different effects.

Rad has also been changed to prevent all healing.

They've also added a category "Gravity Effect," which things will presumably be specifically affected by or immune to.

More clarifications.

Page 15: Clarifications.

Page 16: One of the most important clarifications, that the campaign is for learning all of the rules.

This is probably the most important clarification outside of rules, as there's been a lot of controversy over the campaign structure.

Page 17-18: Placement and Deployment rules have been clarified and modified.

Page 22: Clarifications.

Page 23: Target Designation has been changed to only one counter. This will hugely limit the Vanguard ability to control/exploit the board, and I generally feel like it was a good move.

The Havok Defense Gun has 2 attacks instead of 1d3. Also, it's now a Free Ability, which is confusing, because it says it's an attack action as well.

Page 28: Nano now infects after moving. This is a huge shift in the game, and not one I'm sure I like. Nano has become far more aggressive and powerful.

Page 29: Clarifications, including health of Evolved Strain.

Page 30: A number of Strain abilities are now described as universal rules here instead of on their cards.

Page 31-32: clarifications.

Page 33-36: OMGWTFBBQ! Studio Mcvey added a glossary, and I couldn't be happier. Well, actually, an appendix with page numbers would have been better, but I'm still really happy they added this.

Scenarios: as far as I could tell, scanning, none of these were changed. I would have appreciated a couple bits of rebalancing, but it's fine as-is.


Note: I won't be noting things which have already been addressed in errata.

Captain Kara Black: Lower speed, higher health. She's less accurate with the Plasma beam (giving her a reason to use her pistol).

Fire Order is now a Move Ability, i.e. it means you forfeit your movement to get the attack. I think this is pretty cool- it dictates a static style of fighting.

Corpsman Vade: Higher health. Healing abilities are also now Move abilities.

Specialist Barker Zosa: Heavy Weapons Guy is now replaced with something really confusing. I'll need to get clarification before I can comment.

His Plasma Thrower's Suppression has been changed to make models prone instead of gaining an attack.

Operator Akosha Nama: For some reason, she's worse in melee now.  She als had her speed reduced to 6, which I appreciate, because it was too easy to exploit.

She also doesn't get to shoot into melee without penalty any more.

Killshot now does more damage instead of higher accuracy.

Hurley: the Cannon now has a minimum range, meaning it has no melee ability.

Hurley's interaction with Drones is clarified as per FAQ, and the Reflex Trigger is now based on enemy movement.

Attack Drone: Use Mark has been renamed and does more damage. The Reflex Trigger is completely different, now marking a target instead of making an attack.

Defense Drone: Impact has been renamed and the target is Prone.

It can now absorb attacks, has a longer range on its reflex trigger. Defensive Field is slightly worse, and interacts differently with Hurley.

(Hurley's) Firewall (and Drones' renamed Viral Safeguard) now have a wider range.

The Machine rule shared by all robots now prevents healing.

Drones' Impact attacks now do less damage, and their health has been reduced to 4.

Grenadier: Bouncer Marksman now costs 2 tactics. The reflex trigger has been changed to a target mark instead of an attack. All three attacks have the same damage and no staging.

Reaver: His accuracy took a hit. Cascade is completely different: it's a lower-accuracy AOE instead of high damage.

Rock 'n' Roll and Smartgunner, like the Havok, are static numbers instead of d6. Smartgunner forfeits movement.

His reflex is now just a basic attack.

Lancer: their reflex now requires a target mark, limiting it a lot. However, Power Beam is both stronger and cheaper.

Troopers: Saber Overload is now lower damage and knocks small models prone. This is a huge change: it means that Samaritans are no longer monster slayers, but are able to stop small models in their tracks even if they don't kill them. It looks like a good compromise, but I'm not sure yet- this will definitely require testing.

Frosty now has a free version, but both options require focusing, meaning you can't walk up and set yourself up for a couple kills.

All Samaritans have suffered -2 Defense. This is going to hugely change the game- I'm interested to see how it affects army balance.

Phase 1
Revenants : wow. They gained 2 health, and a really great ability: Lurch allows you to make a short move and attack (meaning you can focus when attacking).

They also gained a kind of characterful ability that won't probably see much attention.

Again, this is going to change the game. 10 health means that the kill ratio is going to hugely go down against these guys; Lurch gives them the ability to force positions; and Vanguard will much more easily be beaten through attrition.

Revenants lost 1 movement. Sorry, guys, missed this one the first time 'round. This is a pretty big deal, though actually only affects positioning, not combat rounds, since Lurch makes them effectively movement 6.

Another oversight: Revenants use Lurch, not moving, as a reflex. This means strain have the ability to attack in their reflex phase.

Phase 2
Quasimoto: These guys gained defense, but also 4 points on their cost. This is another huge change to the dynamics of the game: it discourages spamming (which I appreciate that they did), but I'm not sure if that was too far or not...

Stalkers: They're tougher, like the Revenants, and faster, but now are at the same defense as Quasimotos. Homicidal Rage is much stronger, though less flexible, and you can now Run with Prowl.

Phase 3
Brimstone: The only model to go down in price. Its abilities have been reworded to be more functional, too.

Scythe-witch: it gained 1 damage on its spurs, and some abilities were clarified. Something pretty cool is that it gained Horde.

Furious Snare is a bit different, probably stronger.

The big change is the Scythe Witch is no longer a glass cannon: it has a whopping 6 more health (more than 1.5 times its original).

Phase 4-5
Grendlr: its Mandible Cannon is far stronger: the second attack doesn't rely on the first hitting.

It lost 1 staging reduction and reach. Mech Talons are pretty dramatically altered.

Override is much stronger, as it's a free ability.

Cthonian: Infection Tendrils went from weak to a strong melee threat with cool rules. This is compounded by a devastating Focus attack, making multiple attacks. I guess they decided it should be able to handle itself in melee.

Regeneration is radically different- instead of healing, it's damage reduction. Stacked with its exoskeleton and weaker Overload power, the Cthonian has become very tough. This is compounded by a much tougher version of Fortify Carapace.

It's pretty clear what the intent was: Vanguard were too dodgy, Strain weren't tough enough; also, there was too much Samaritan and Quasimoto spamming. Mostly the rest was adding some flavor and making rules make more sense.

I'm 100% happy with the revised rules, I'm kind of concerned at how much the power has shifted regarding the cards.

I'm curious to see how these changes affect the game...


  1. Very nice list you've got here. I've only had a chance to play the original game twice, using the first scenario. I really didn't have a problem with that version, but do hope the new rules and cards will be an improvement!

    1. Thanks!

      I was happy enough with the first edition's structure, but there were internal balance issues (samaritans and quasimotos were just too good not to take)- I think they might have some faction balance issues now, though:

      I'm a little worried SMV was overzealous (I feel like maybe 1/3-1/2 of the changes would have been enough to balance it), but hoping to get some games with the new edition in, this weekend.

  2. Grenadier change worth noting: only one grav and one rad grenade *per game*. Single greatest nerf to the Vanguard from my limited experience. Rad grenade spam was the best anti-nano weapon around, and with how aggressive nano infection has become, I'm expecting a lot of Strain wins.

    1. The grenadier single grenade of each type was part of early errata, which was important at that point and I think a solid choice, but, with the new nano capabilities (like you mentioned), I'm definitely feeling your concern about balance...

      I'm thinking that anti-nano will need to be in every Vanguard list, now, which is limiting but also somewhat in character (when fighting a sentient virus, anti-virus seems smart to be prepared with...)

    2. The issue is that there really isn't much anti-nano available.

    3. Yep, feeling like the old rad grenades might have been good to put back in the game...

      There are some decent options in strategic games, but, yeah, campaign scenario options are pretty limited in scope.

  3. The shift seems like it might've been a little *too* heavy since there's only so much the Vanguard can do against the Nano, but I'd say they got more right than they didn't, though it does pain me a little that they barely even glanced at the non-rules parts of the rulebook.

    Great list of the changes, by the way. That had to take a fair amount of time.

    1. Yep, I'm feeling like they pushed it too far in favor of Strain. Also, yes, I wish they had taken the time to at very least proof the fiction a second time, and I have some doubts about not touching the scenarios when they were rebalancing all the models.

      I'm hoping for the best, but still a bit confused, though, it's also only been a few days (and in my case one game) since the new "edition" came out.

      And, thanks, re: the list-- I was already scanning it for all the changes, so I thought I'd do the other half of the work and spend the time to write them down :)