Friday, January 18, 2013

Blood Bowl: Inducements

Blood Bowl is currently running with a system in place that attempts to even out a match between two teams regardless of how leveled up one of teams might be compared to the other one. There's a formula to work out what each team is 'worth' and then the worse team gets free money to spend on inducements before the match in order to bridge the gap. On top of this if a team happens to have fewer than 11 active players the game also gives them free linemen to use for the next game to make sure they start with a full team on the field. (Note these free linemen do come with a detrimental skill, loner, and their value is assigned to your team value before calculating inducements.)

Now, if inducements are overcosted then the 'better' team should still have an advantage in the game, just not an overwhelming one, and leveling up is a good thing. If inducements are perfectly costed then leveling up or not doesn't matter at all which seems like a bad thing. If inducements are undercosted then leveling up is actively bad. Your opponent will be able to induce his way to a better team than you! Thankfully the guys who designed the rules understood this and went out of their way to make sure inducements were on the pricy side for what you got. For example, you can use inducement money to buy a mercenary player for your team for any position you haven't maxed out. These guys cost 30k more than a normal guy and come with the loner skill. If you want to buy them another skill you can, for 50k, where a normal guy who gains a skill is worth only 20k more. So to get a level 2 dude via inducements you have to pay an extra 60k and you get the detrimental loner skill. This clearly falls into the category of worse than leveling up but better than nothing. You can grab extra rerolls/apothecaries for double the normal cost. Stuff like that. It all makes perfect sense.

The video game people, for some reason or another, decided that rather than just use the carefully balanced inducement items that they'd exclude some (the random cards you could buy) and add a bunch of their own stuff. This stuff was not painstakingly play tested or balanced, and I've read a fair number of complaints that some of it is pretty silly. My dwarf team in the league that just started is intentionally under the cap in order to get one of the new inducements (a 58% chance to give one of your players a bonus agility which is a pretty big deal for dwarves). +1 agility to a player is worth 40k and this potion costs 40k and doesn't always work so it does seem overcosted like the other stuff. But this is something I can't easily get normally. A player only has a 1 in 18 chance when they level up to get that +1 agility. I did roll one on my dwarves, but it was on a guy with 2 agility base and I didn't feel the need to bump that up to 3. But giving one of my runners a boost from 3 to 4 seems really strong. It would be preferred to do it by leveling up and rolling an 11 but until that happens I'm happy with running a lower valued team and getting a potion instead.

Is that the only powerful extended inducement? I doubt it. I think it's worth checking out the full list to see...

Star Players and Mercenaries: Extra guys you can recruit for one game. They all have loner, and the mercenaries are all quite overcosted. Star players vary from team to team and some are better than others. As I understand it they're a reasonable way to spend inducement money but all cost so much they're definitely not worth sandbagging to pick up.

Wizard: 150k gets you a wizard. Once per game, at the start or end of your turn, you can use the wizard to cast a fireball or a lightning bolt. Lightning bolt targets a single player and injures them 5/6ths of the time. Fireball targets a 3x3 grid and injures any players in the grid 3/6ths of the time. This can often result in turning an opposing touchdown into one of your own. Wizards are a core inducement and are awesome.

Cheering Fans/Rioting Fans: Ok, that whole bit about getting to use a wizard once per game? I lied. No one is certain exactly how it works but after your wizard casts a spell in the online game he starts charging up to cast another spell. Cheering fans supposedly increase the speed at which he charges up. Rioting fans decrease the speed for your opponent's wizard. Base recharge apparently happens when you roll on the injury table (the bigger the injury the more the charge) and when you score touchdowns. I really wish I knew how it worked and am considering playing the single player campaign to test it out. All fans cost 20k to induce and you can get up to 4 of each. Depending on recharge rate this may well be overpowered. The first wizard at 150k is a good deal. Getting a second one for 20k would be obscene.

Wandering Apothecary: 100k gets you an extra apothecary. You can get two of them. If you're an undead team you can instead spend 100k on an Igor who lets you reroll a regeneration roll. Not a great use of cash since the base apothecary only costs 50k but it does give you the flexibility to apothecary a KO roll without too much fear of someone dying later, I guess. Could be better for a team early on without an apothecary at all?

Bribes: 100k gets you a bribe. 5/6ths of a time when the ref sends you off for cheating you can use the bribe to stay on the field and not cause a turnover. Bribes let you foul more liberally but seem pretty expensive for that purpose. They also let secret weapons get used more than one drive which could be hot. Goblins, who have most of the secret weapons, can induce bribes for only 50k and it's probably a pretty sweet deal for them. You can get up to 3.

Bribe a Player: 40k lets you try for a 41% chance to reduce the movement speed of an opposing player. +1 movement is worth 30k to their team value so if it always worked it would be a tad pricy but not unreasonable. As is it seems pretty terribly unless they happen to have a guy who can score in a single turn!

Bodyguard: 10k lets you hire a bodyguard for a single player which counters the above bribe. This could happen if the better team decides to toss in some of their cash reserves in order to get some inducements of their own, but bumps up the amount of inducements the other team gets. Trading 10k for 40k seems pretty fantastic. Heck, even if they induce something else it's probably worthwhile on your single turn scoring dude.

Extra Reroll: 100k gives you a reroll. Overcosted if your rerolls only cost you 50k normally. Not as bad if they're 70k normally. Not a terrible way to spend small amounts of inducement money though. You can get 4 if you want!

Bloodweiser Babes: For 50k you get a babe who feeds your KOed dudes beer. This gives you +1 to your KOed dudes when they try to wake up. You can buy two of them, and for squishy teams against bashy teams they've worked out very well in my experience. Keeping dudes off the field is how my dwarves try to win games, so if you can recover from KO more reliably that's great for you. And they're cheap.

Bad Habits: For 100k you can remove a reroll from your opponent. Against some teams who are reroll light this could be really good. Way better than giving yourself an extra reroll if you already have a decent number of them, anyway.

Halfling Master Chef: For 300k you get the ability to steal rerolls from your opponent. Each half you will steal between 0 and 3 rerolls, adding to your total and subtracting from theirs. Considering you should steal 1.5 on average this is costed in line with both extra reroll and bad habits but is way swingier. Halflings can get this for 100k where it's insanely undercosted. Good thing halflings suck at everything else, huh? Halflings desperately need to run 100k behind their opponent so they can get this. For everyone else it just seems ok.

Potion of Strength: 60k gets you a 27% chance at a strength on a player of your choice. You choose before you know if it will work or not. You can buy 3 of them. Extra strength is worth 50k in team value so this is a little more expensive if it worked all the time. At 27% you're looking at wasting a lot of money on null results but will sometimes have a good day. Extra strength is good and all, but I'm not sure it's really cost effective as an inducement. Certainly if you have a lot of money you can just induce a star player with high strength.

Potion of Agility: 40k gets you a 58% chance at an agility on a player of your choice. This seems way better than the strength one to me. It costs less, it is much more likely to work, and for many teams getting one more guy with one more agility is crazy good. While your whole team will tend to be hitting/getting hit and therefore your whole team likes strength generally only a small number of guys will ever interact with the ball. This means fewer people want agility and makes a single agility on the player of your choice that much better than a single strength. You can buy up to 3 of these.

Drug Testing: 20k convinces the ref to drug test one of the opposing players. If they're on drugs they get kicked out of the game. Drugs in this case being the above two potions. I don't know how it works for sure. Does it kick people out if the potion didn't give them a stat? Can it kick people out who don't use a potion? Can it fail to kick people out who did? I wonder if it's worth spending 40k to drug test my two runners if I'm set up to drug them. We could play drug chicken since you could then turn that 40k around and buy an agility potion of your own if you assume I'm going to spend the 120k somewhere else instead.

I need to test out wizard recharging but other than that and the agility potions everything else seems pretty in line with the general idea of having inducements be overcosted relative to leveling up. And since you can only buy 3 agility potions, they might fail, and there is a potential counter to them I guess it's not so bad. Leveling should still be good!

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