Special rules – are they more now? Part 2

So in the last post I started a post where I wanted to investigate if my theories are something that can hold up if I actually count up all special rules I consider to be special rules for each unit. This time I will continue it and discuss what conclusions I have come to.

First of all I should also include a disclaimer. As with my last post this is a highly subjective discussion. What to include and what to not include as a special rule is up to each of his/her own. My list is basically only valid for me. Except for when it isn’t… I come a little into that. But mostly it is so highly subjective that another person might come to a completely other conclusion.

Again I think I should not the theories;

The theories

Theory 1. At the start there was almost no special rules.

This is a rather simple one. No matter how I look at it I come to the conclusion that in average we have about 1 special rule per unit one way or another at the start. Now if you calculate harsher then it might be higher or slightly lower. Thing is, what I considered no special rules is actually, by my opinion, one per unit. That is a lot more than zero.

Theory 1 discarded. All units basically had special rules in the beginning.

Theory 2. Special rules inflation in the releases.

The next theory is regarding there are more special rules. That is for me the waves’ development.

UCM I got: 0,57, 2 and 1,5
Scourge: 1,43, 1,33 and 3
PHR; 0,75, 2,67 and 4
Shaltari: 1,43, 1,67 and 2
Resistance: 1,5 and 3,33

So in one case we see a question (UCM) if there are more special rules. But in the other cases there are more. Of course the amount of units added might change the numbers but I think it is rather clear that newer units have more special rules. I also think this is a conclusion most people would come to no matter how you calculate.

Theory 2 confirmed for Egge.

Here I need to clarify something. Just because there are more special rules doesn’t mean that it is bad. Just that there are more special rules. I think it have a lot to do with the amount of people with input and creative minds. New stuff is fun to add. For me it just don’t mean that a new special thing that add a total new layer to an army is a must with each unit released. It can just be a different played version of something old giving variation in both models and game style. But it doesn’t have to be a completely turn around.

To try to make a point. Valkyries are one of the coolest additions to DZC and especially a great help to PHR. But it basically meant that PHR went from one of the slowest infantry armies to one of the most mobile and least dependent on transports to get the infantry to the correct point. It is hard to explain how I mean in written words here. I love the Valkyries but wonder if they had to be fastest unit between buildings without a transport or would it have been enough just making them “faster” than immortals? I would in this case say yes but the question is a valid one. Does each new unit have to invent the wheel? In that I would say no.

There is also the matter that special rules tend to be used to make people think a unit is special. But we are playing a miniature game. Not a roleplaying game. As long as a unit behaves roughly as expected and looks cool you have gotten a long long way. Another PHR example;
Does the Medusa look like it should have cool special rules? Hell yeah!
Does she look like she is faster than a fast skimmer? Not to me.
Does she look like a unit that takes more AT shots than any other unit in the game to take out (it takes 36 AT E10 shots shooting directly at her to kill her in average if hitting on 2+ – assuming no healing and it takes 14 shots to take down a Hades)? No – I don’t really think so. It is a girl flying. No matter how I look at it she shouldn’t survive more AT fire than a Hades. Especially nor for half the cost. I don’t care if you can use machine guns as well. It is just strange.

So in this case I must come to the conclusion that there are more special rules among the newer units. There do seem to be something within the game where each new unit must be extremely different and add something new with new rules instead of just new variants of old. I’m not sure but I think a more moderate approach on special rules should be sufficient.

Theory 3. Newer units have better special rules.

So now it comes down to what I think is my most subjective part.

Is the Evasive rule better than skimmer? Yes.
Is DF better than higher armour – mostly yes.
Does flame unit get faster and making old flame units even less usable – hmmm.. yes.

I would say that many special rules have become more powerful than old ones. In some cases several new units using only old special rules are not as good. It is clearly more important to look at a units special rules than the stats themselves than on the old units. A gun’s special rule is more important than the stat. Of course this is highly biased and there are many units that does not have special rules at all. But I do feel that the newer rules are more frequent with special rules and do have better combination of them or together with stats. For instance the Raider. It just completely killed the Tormentor off. Flame on a transport is cool as long as it doesn’t become much much better than the army’s dedicated flame unit. Then it just feels wrong.

So I’m sorry and I understand the hate I might get because of this; Theory 3 confirmed to Egge.

Theory 4. More than 10 units have special rules they could go without.

This is also pretty self explanatory. I want to see if there are units I can think could just remove a special rule and they wouldn’t give a damn.

So I went thought the list I have made and came to the conclusion;

UCM; Snipers could decrease the amount of special rules. Evasive and dodge to be exact. Katanas could use removing the smoke launchers. Hazard suits could remove the DF.
Scourge; Destroyers could ditch the go through walls (I like that manning walls stop opponents from coming in). Screamer could be redone.
PHR; Valkyries could make it well without evasive and Jump jet pack for moving over buildings. Snipers could make it without evasive. Medusa absolutely have some rules she could be used without.
Shaltari; Braves and First borns could go without DF.
Resistance; HQ skimmer could be a non-skimmer (it is stupid big). Cyclones would still be highly usable without barrage. Freeriders without DF would be welcomed. Scout ATV could have less special rules.

With this list I feel I have been generally rather generous. There are many other things you could argue that they could be removed and the unit would still be used. But special rules are also created to make a unit feel special. So I came up to 13 and I think most people, being harsh would come with a much greater number. My list is of course highly subjective but I think most people would be able to find units they wouldn’t play different just because a special rule was removed.

Theory 4 – approved to Egge.

It should be highly noted the unfairness here. The special rules doesn’t stand alone in a unit. Most of them are in combination with stats. Freeriders evasive is not so bad until you understand they have a high speed movement. In the original rulebook you had to move smart with your units. The newer waves base more on being harder, faster, being able to do more stuff and more powerful attacks and more DP. The original idea of “if you are fast – you are easy to kill when hit” or “If you are tough to kill – you are slow” is basically ignored for later waves and we do have units that are “fast, hard to hit, can stand up to more damage”. I think this is the main reason we see so little percentages of the normal units.

Theory 5. Special rules are better than stats.

This has a basis in my opinion that special rules are harder to put points to and thus should be judged harder. In case of doubt the points should be set higher. Special means special and if everyone is special then no one is.

Well subjectively speaking. Yes I think that newer special rules are much more powerful than the first ones. I also think that we have seen a inflation in stat as well. More DP, higher Energy on weapons, more evasive, more speed and so on. We see more Ferrums than Sabres. And so on. I think that a lot of units out there are extremely much beter than their points and the reason we are not seeing so much of an issue is because of the brilliant restrictions built in when doing your army. But I think that many units could get a 10% price increase and still be highly used. Mostly because of special rules that doesn’t feel included in the points.

But with the data I have I got my list of “best units” at 1,68 special rules in average. The middle got 1,62 special rules and worse unit-list got 1,28 special rules. While I can see it shows a trend I don’t think it conclusive. Even for me. But I still suspect that basic units are not as good and I can’t really blame the special rules. More then, I suspect, a combination of stat increase and special rules.

Theory 5 – inconclusive.


So overall I would say that we do have seen some inflation. We see more special rules, better special rules while increase in stat. We also see several units being used all the time and many of the original units being beaten by the later units. Special rules are a good addition to make a unit feel special or when you need to make it better (UCM Falcon is a good example) but in combination with better stats I think it is pretty clear that the game is doing some of Games workshop’s inflation of rules. Problem is that now new units will be compared with the current best units by Hawk and the community and the level of Freeriders, Ferrum, Raider, Medusa, Caiman is not what I want to see. I want the new units to be compared with Tormentors, Sabres, Gun technicals, Hyperions and Ocelots. Else we will just see that the later units will just get special rules to keep up. But this isn’t easy. Most of the community screams nerf and cry if their precious units that are always in the army get a nerf in favour of the weaker units.

I love the game and it will be interesting to see how it develops and how DFC will be handling this matter as well.

I expect some hate here below in the comment section 🙂 but please remember that all this is my personal opinions. Let me have it.

12 Responses to Special rules – are they more now? Part 2

  1. Creeping Dementia says:

    1) new fast flame units making the older flame units obsolete doesn’t have anything to do with special rules. IMO flame units should have been on viable platforms from day one, now the new ones are… And they actually work.
    Would Flame Janus make Menchits obsolete, absolutely, but that has nothing to do with new special rules.

    2) I think one of the problems is there are only so many ways you can manipulate basic stats and have a result that is unique, fun, useful, and fulfills a role. As the roster for the races expand, it seems there are only a couple ways to keep from having redundant units A) special rules, B) invent new basic stats and incorporate them into the game.

    I personally think that when DZC 2.0 gets released there will be less special rules, and that the core rules will be composed to allow for more unique units, all based on things they have learned from the current edition.

    • Thanks for commenting.

      1. I think you are absolutely right – the combination of stat and rules need to be taken into account. But I do think that new units are benchmarked a bit more to the best units in the game instead of the old original ones. If we take the Raider I think it is benchmarked against freeriders and not the tormentors. For me this means that the benchmark is made towards one of the best units in the game.

      2. I do agree that special rules are a valid way to make units unique. However I do not agree that DZC is there yet. Far from it. If you take a look at the basic units you see huge differences the army is played with very small differences and for me that was the initial selling points – stat was made to differentiate units, not special rules. But with very small stat differences you can have huge differences in how a unit is played. Also – army wide special rules is then a better option. For instance Shaltari gate system makes sure that even if you have exact same stat as another faction’s unit the Shaltari unit will be played with different tactics because of how the rest of the army behaves.

      As you say – it will very interesting to see how DZC will develop and if the new special rules will continue or if it will flat out.

      • CreepingDementia says:

        Having a chance to think about it more, I’m not really too concerned about the number of special rules a unit has, I’m more concerned about the number of special rules a game has instead. The Medusa for instance, yes she has 8 special rules, but only 1 is truly unique to her (Drone control). Well 2 if you count Levitated but really Valkaries have that too. All the rest are established rules that are used by many units in the game.

        The thing that really bothers me about special rules is when they get to be like 40k, and its practically a full time job to know and memorize what all the special rules in the game are (IMO its not even a playable game anymore). As long a Hawk avoids that mess and sticks to 20-30 special rules in the entire game system, then I’m really not too concerned about how many of them each unit has (unless they are wildly unbalanced, obviously). Hawk needs to standardize its naming of special rules too, for example Levitated and Jump-Jet pack are really the same rule… go ahead and give them the same name.

        • I don’t know still. I think that special rules should be used a bit less often. Around 1-2 unit should be max. I think it builds upp. More releases more special rules. For me it is still a matter of;

          1. Do the unit actually pay the points for it’s potential in it’s special rules?
          2. Are the special rules needed for the unit to be played as intended?
          3. If in doubt – increase points initially.
          4. Remove special rules that doesn’t come into play often enough and doesn’t build character.

          • Creeping Dementia says:

            What are your thoughts about the Abhorrent rule from the Screamer? It’s technically one special rule, but it does 4 things. In that regard, it would be easy to make the Medusa have 1-2 special rules if each one did a laundry list of different things, and have exactly the same unit we do now. One rule that outlines it’s survivability traits, and another rule dealing with its damage output.

            Also FYI the Medusa just went up 10 points.

          • I took some subjection notion into this I calculated it as 4 special rules so 5 with evasive. Special rules with wall of text need to be considered as many more as well. So it was increased. In reality I am not exactly looking into special rules more like “special things” that you need to consider under the game that are good for the unit. It quickly becomes vague though and I think I have been pretty clear that subjectivity comes a lot into play for this. So the arguments can be made either direction. I like that the Medusa went up though I still think that the poor Ares is extremely inferior to it still. It is just too good because of it’s special rules.

  2. I think power creep happens in all growing wargames. There is only so much design space available in a rule set to allow meaningful baseline stat variance. Games tend to have a comprehensive ruleset so that units can “break” the rules within the game to make them different.

    If you start from a baseline of stats, then you can only go above or below the baseline. If you go above then the need for special rules is less. If you go below the base line then special rules become more important in making that unit playable/desirable. If you want to make units different with similar stats, then special rules are the main option. Would you say that units with a lot of special rules have better stats, worse stats or the same as standard units?

    I think Hawk have done a good job so far in keeping the the power creep curve fairly flat.
    I agree with you that more and more new special rules will not be good for the game, but I think the existing set are fine and allow the design of different combinations to exist for future units. ( I think the sappers are a very clever unit from a design point of vew in this respect)

    • Welcome to the comment section 🙂

      One thing I had to revise with this investigation from my part is that I didn’t consider that the original units had any special rules while in fact I actually consider that they have 1 special rule in average. With that in mind you actually can make a lot of variation with the stat and one special rule.

      The main thing with DZC I think is that the original units had only one person making them. Then we have a lot more input with cool ideas and the implementation thus means more new rules.

      With me going through the units I do consider that new units have better stats. The new triton X have 2 DP and a better gun, the Raider have 5 DP and better guns than other units. Freeriders are versatile, have better survivability than any other unit at the same level of cost while still maintaining speed and fire power. So year I think that although more special rules we see also stat increases. Together I think the benchamarks are now against better units than for Wave 1. I think that special rules should always be point wise placed “at the worst” instead of assuming a lower point value. With hawk’s hyper smart thing that they are willing to change points I think they should have gone the other way and have higher initial points instead of lower with units with many special rules and high stats.

      The main thing is that the game will always be alive and worst case is that any units that are unbalanced will in the end be taken care of. We also must consider “point costed well enough” is more valid than my tournament idea that point costs should be exactly balanced. My view is inheritable flawed because of this. A game designers view is very different. For instance, the Medusa and Freeriders are units that work well as infantry in the open which most likely was one idea that Hawk wanted to implement (and did successfully). This should also be considered – the way hawk want the units to go. It just that I think that Evasive and DF combined is a way to make sure people does not want to protect their units

  3. I agree that evasion + DF is tiresome, but I’m not sure it is enough to promote lone units. DzC is very much a combined arms game, any unit that isn’t backed up/supported will not survive against mass concentrated fire.

    Is the Raider/Tormentor comparison fair? They both have flame weapons but one is a flying transport and the other a heavy tank. You would use them differently. The New Razorworm delivery vehicle will certainly add an interesting choice for Scourge players.

    Evasion+DF may cause a shift in the meta and make flame weapons more desirable, maybe resulting Scourge lists with Raiders & Tormentors…

    • I think that DZC earns a lot in its way to build armies. You can’t just have a single type of unit because you need so many different types and restrictions in the way you build your battlegroups. That is why “balanced enough” is much more valid for DZC than say 40k. If standard unit is “to good” in DZC and the Command units “to weak” it balance out.

    • CreepingDementia says:

      Amit is right that the Raider and Tormentor are used differently… Except the difference is Raiders are used in games, and Tormentors (and most other flame units) are used to decorate shelves and display cases. A new delivery system for Razorworms really nullifies the existence of Tormentors.

      I honestly don’t think the coming of effective flame units has anything to do with Special Rules creep though. Until a year ago there were no truly effective flame units in the entire game. The platforms Hawk kept putting Flame weapons on were either too slow, or not multipurpose. The Gharriaaial changed that by being faster and having more than one role. Then came the Raider, with blinding speed and a massive amount of high strength shots. And the Samurai, which can be taken more MSU style and also punch anything, also fall in to the ‘useful-flame-unit’ category. No extra special rules needed. Hawk just finally started putting Flame weapons on units that can actually use them.

      While I do think the Screamer/Raider combo is definitely over the top, and even more game-altering than the Medusa, I think that Hawk is making a correction with flame units that should have been made a long time ago. It was sad to see an entire weapon category going totally unused, now its being fixed. Now just need them to go back and fix all the ‘old’ flame units as well.

      • Wow! A really good comment. I haven’t considered like that regarding older flame units being designed a bit off and we see that new flame units will be used in a different way. A good point that I think changed my mind a bit regarding the older flame units. The flame units should be benchmarked against other medium units. Not the older flame units. Well said, Sir. Well said indeed.