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JacctheInsomniac

Here's why I don't like new Esters

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Okay, so before I start with my main argument proper I wanna clarify a few things.

1. I'm a Hunter player. I don't play Brewers. I grew quite fond of seeing a friend play Brewers as he was getting into the game, but overall I have no horse in this race. By my estimation I think this is a good and bad thing. I'm not particularly biased for the old Esters I never played, but I'm also not familiar with how the Brewers play aside from knocking someone down and laying into them.

2. I'm not speaking with regards to power. In fact, I actually think new Esters is a little bit stronger although we can't truly know until all the changes are out. I don't hold it against you if you're excited about her. I'm gonna be making the argument that new Ester's is badly designed. In the same way your favorite bag might have a really finicky zipper or a dangly strap that occasionally catches on something. You can still like it and use it, and it might end up being something you don't even notice.

3. I'm discussing old and new Esters in a vacuum and this is deliberate. I feel that the points I make are valid whether or not she's viewed in the context of the rest of the guild or whatever changes could be on their way.

In fact, this isn't so much to say, "new Ester's is badly designed," so much as, "old Esters was much better designed," with the primary reason being this little snippet that appeared in her reveal.

"Aria is the replacement for Esters’ old Empowered Voice abilities and legendary play. Those mechanics just asked so many questions of players. Which buff to choose, when to use it alongside when the best time is to activate Esters, when to use her legendary play, which abilities to choose then, which models to use them on and when. SO many questions that just made Esters extremely tactically complex to use. All of that has been cut out and replaced with Aria."

Personally, I find this paragraph ridiculous. Esters's Empowered Voice asked a lot of questions, but nowhere near too many.

In fact, I think it was an almost perfect amount. Damage? Goals? Defense? Do you superbuff one model or spread it around? Does Esters use it for herself to avoid interruption or use it on a squaddie for a higher potential payoff? Do you use it early and risk tipping your hand? Hold her activation to threaten and make your opponent react to you? Or hold onto it and see where the game goes?

These types of questions are a goldmine for good gameplay. A small set of tools with a wide range of applications. Risks, tradeoffs, rewards, and counterplay. I know I'm just using game design buzzwords but I can't help but feel like Ester's never got a fair shake.

I like the removal of Fire Blast and Blast Earth, I felt they were traps more often than they weren't, and while I think the new playbook is stronger, more was removed from it than was added, and I think that's emblematic of how Esters changed overall. New Ester's Aria, feels... boring. Strong. But Boring.

In Game Design there are several kinds of choices, but three bad ones come to mind. Meaningless choices, obvious choices, and wrong/optimal choices.

Meaningless Choices aren't bad as much as they are... well meaningless. Also included under this umbrella are illusions of choice.

Wrong/Optimal Choices are when a certain choice is objectively better or worse than another. It's the difference between a sword that does 10 damage and a sword that does 5. In a game of information and adaptive strategies, choices will frequently turn out wrong, but the kind of choice I'm referring to can be determined wrong before it's even made. They are honestly pretty rare. Games will avoid them by using non-comparables. Snared versus Gut and String is a good example. Both lower defense and movement, one can be cleared by the opponent, one can't but is cleared at the end of turn.

Theoretically if you had the choice between Gut and String or Snare on the same playbook result, you'd find a compelling reason to take either. But if you had a choice between Stagger, or Gut and String on that same result one of those choices is wrong.

Finally obvious choices, are the ones to which there is no thought involved in. They're almost non-choices except that maybe you have to remember to make them.

My point in bringing this up is to make the argument that Aria presents a choice that is elements of all of the above simultaneously. If in Aria -> Use Heroic.

It's called out directly in the article, but new Ester's Aria is functionally just an extra 4mp per turn in the best case scenario, and it's not that that's weak by any means. In fact, I don't have any problem with new Ester's on her own merits. I just maintain that old Esters had a much better gameplay conceit.

Perhaps I wouldn't have taken the time to write this if the reason for changing Esters was that she was simply weak, or other changes were coming to Brewers that would make her too powerful as she existed, or even that the designers just didn't like Empowered Voice themselves. But the stated reason is that old Esters was too complex, to which I can respond only with bafflement.

I'm not here to say that Steamforged should feel bad about the model they delivered, Game Design is hard. Also if it seems like I'm being unnecessarily defensive I saw people complaining about people complaining about Estesr and once you get to the metamoan phase there's never any telling how discourse will shake out. I'm just here to share my neurotic designer brain musings.

I think it's also worth saying that I'm being a stickler because S4 has been so relentlessly hype that I was kinda surprised to see something revealed I genuinely disliked. Could be cause the Hunters have gotten nothing but buffs and lateral changes.

I guess I'm having a hard time ending this, can't think of anything else to say than these are my thoughts on new Esters. Hope you enjoyed the read!

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I think new aria is a bit more significant than 4mp a turn. I also don't have a horse in the race, but throughout S3 we were told one reason brewers were weak in the meta was because of acrivation order problems surrounding their need to generate momentum to use their heroics. We had the GICs to experiment with giving the brewers that ability and I suspect found that it was not game breaking, but was incredibly powerful.

So when S4 rolls around they think we need to put that ability into the game, but we need to make sure it's not just going to make a model auto include. Hence they put it on a model but take a lot away from that model instead. Okay, so that's balanced. How well only time will tell.

There's also been a refocus on each guild's core playstyle, and it looks like they decided ranged control needs removing from the brewers. Can't say I particularly have strong feelings about it, but I guess it makes sense. I can see why some people don't like it, but I dont think it's something you can be justified in complaining about, just as I won't be complaining if the lack of mom T on the revealed Ox means no mom Ts on any butchers.  

As for the tactical choices argument, I think the whole point of putting this ability into brewer's was to free up options for their activation order. Yes there's less choices to make with esters, but more good choices to be made with everyone else.

Overall I think she will make brewers a more open and adaptable team to play, less about aving to control the opposition to be able to do their thing,  and more about being able to do their own thing whatever the opponent may do. I guess it's a matter of personal preference, but that sounds much more fun overall to me.

 

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As some who's played hundreds of games with Brewers (for the past 3 years both captains had time of dominance in my gameplay). I think I've played a game with every single guild there is, try to play about 4 guilds regularly to keep a fresh view on the game and some game sense. No guild had to keep so strict to the activation order. The addition of vDecimate changed things a bit so that most of the time you keep buffing Decimate for as many activations as you can and then she does the work. 

New Esters allows the guild for a lot more loose game. Up until now starting the turn with Hooper wasn't that appealing as he didn't have True Grit for the first attack so he wasn't likely to get that much needed MOM KD. Now it's much more realistic. The same goes for Stoker. Needed that Heroic to Burn someone without INF? No problem now. 

Aria is so much more than just up to 4MP per turn saved. It gives options the Brewers didn't have up until now.

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So, I feel like I'm going to be flagellating deceased mule at this point but but as a Brewers player I feel I have the tiniest bit of investment in this topic..

First of all, I honestly don't care about the removal of her ranged plays.. Other than I think it reduces amount of options the guild has in terms of playstyle, I always thought it was a weird combination on her card which didn't really fit her character.. At this point there are plenty other guilds which focus on ranged plays and with the impending Alchemist changes I feel our "gun-line" would be a poor comparison without access to "Momentous Inspiration".. Also there is nothing to say our rookie or cross guild players don't get abilities that better suit their character and open up the playstyle back to the guild, we've already seen the improvement (less damaging sidegrade in some people's opinion) to Stave and his Heroic...

With the mention of Heroic Plays I figure this is a good time to slot in the "Aria" conversation.. On paper this seems like a really strong ability but I have a feeling on the table this will be a bit of a trap.. Yes it reduces the thought required when determining your activation order but it also restricts a lot of movement options if you want to benefit from the "four free momentum".. I also think people are forgetting the free momentum the kicking team receives in s4 which helps out gamplan a lot and I have never had a problem generating momentum outside of our first turn (which is mostly posturing and checking potential threat ranges).. 

Sticking with "Aria" momentarily, I honestly think it was added to her card to compensate for the fact she now needs to pay to hand out buffs which she previously provided for free, hence reducing the guilds influence efficiency and momentum generation..

Moving along to the change in her plays / traits, I honestly feel this was the biggest blow to the overall feel of Esters character.. They have taken two really thematic traits in terms of "Empowered Voice" and "It's Not Over Until.." and replaced them with two generic squaddie character plays.. Not only does this reduce the range of Esters influence on the field, it also reduces her efficiency as noted above.. I'm not even mad they reducing our damage buff options to one per captain, I'm just hoping this gets reviewed for the next errata pass and is changed to have the three variations of "Empowered Voice" added as plays to the front of her card (with the 6"range even if they have a OPT stipulation and influence cost) and put her Legendary back on the back..

In summary, while at first glance I thought this was a massive nerf to our guild, after a few days thought I'm just a bit  "meh".. I honestly feel for the players who ran Esters as their primary captain and hope SFG listen to their pleas about the removal of her thematic character, however as far as I am concerned she will basically end up performing the same role for me that she has always done.. 

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I dont think the important part is "reducing the thought requirement when determining activation order", the important part is that several activation orders which was impossible to  do with the apropriate heroics now becomes possible.

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I'm not sure I understand the flavour argument. She lost an ability fairly mundanely named in Empowered Voice, and another that was essentially a bit of a pun based on her being overweight, and replaced them with abilities that essentially do the same thing for a different cost, and gained a new ability with a proper opera-themed name. I'm not sure where the significant flavour difference is there. If you're saying the loss of the ranged stuff is a loss of flavour, well, firstly they were both generic squaddie level abilities, and secondly what do they have to do with opera singing?

In get her playstyle has changed and that might not suit people, but I think that was because she was overlapping on other guild's playstyles. Personally I'm happy to see guilds becoming a little more focused on their own unique playstyles, but I understand it hurts when things that you've grown used to playing one way switch around and that no longer works for you. I've been there and suffered that several times. Sometimes I think I've been right and have been proved so (at least in my own head) by things getting changed back later on (eg, Harry nerf, with butchers getting a very similar model to old Harry in Roast) and sometimes I've been wrong (Ox errata buff, which I was salty about when first revealed).

In fact I think it's that Ox change that perhaps provided me with a bit of wisdom and perspective on things in this game. Dsspite my misgivings I gave Ox a go, I found a new team to put around him, and a new way to play him that was stronger than anything I'd done with him in S3. I would just say: see her as a new model and try her out. She'll be different, but you just might fall in love all over again.

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4 hours ago, Edek said:

Aria is so much more than just up to 4MP per turn saved. It gives options the Brewers didn't have up until now.

Perhaps she could've used instead, a character play that immediately activated a squaddie's heroic play? Or maybe Empowered Voice could've moved to be her own Heroic that doesn't benefit from Aria so she could retain some semblance of her old playstyle. Like I said, I don't greatly dislike new Ester's but the notion that Empowered Voice provided too many choices leaves me scratching my head.

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2 hours ago, malladin.ben said:

I'm not sure I understand the flavour argument. She lost an ability fairly mundanely named in Empowered Voice, and another that was essentially a bit of a pun based on her being overweight, and replaced them with abilities that essentially do the same thing for a different cost, and gained a new ability with a proper opera-themed name. I'm not sure where the significant flavour difference is there. If you're saying the loss of the ranged stuff is a loss of flavour, well, firstly they were both generic squaddie level abilities, and secondly what do they have to do with opera singing?

 

5 hours ago, Redmaw said:

I honestly don't care about the removal of her ranged plays.. Other than I think it reduces amount of options the guild has in terms of playstyle, I always thought it was a weird combination on her card which didn't really fit her character.. At this point there are plenty other guilds which focus on ranged plays and with the impending Alchemist changes I feel our "gun-line" would be a poor comparison without access to "Momentous Inspiration"..

 

5 hours ago, Redmaw said:

Moving along to the change in her plays / traits, I honestly feel this was the biggest blow to the overall feel of Esters character.. They have taken two really thematic traits in terms of "Empowered Voice" and "It's Not Over Until.." and replaced them with two generic squaddie character plays..

 

5 hours ago, Redmaw said:

I'm just hoping this gets reviewed for the next errata pass and is changed to have the three variations of "Empowered Voice" added as plays to the front of her card (with the 6"range even if they have a OPT stipulation and influence cost) and put her Legendary back on the back..


TL;DR:

1) Removing ranged plays are fine (for me anyway)

2) Give Esters "Empowered Voice" back (even if this includes a influence cost)

3) IMHO, people are seriously overestimating the usefulness of "Aria" (although this may change as more heroic plays are revealed)

4) I wasn't going to be putting her on the field anyway (#teamtapper, #saveamber)

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11 minutes ago, MakeGhastA2/3Influence said:

Tooled up and Quick Foot aren't squadie character plays, quick foot in season 3 was a captains only play, and we have reason to believe it will be heavily restricted who has access to it in season 4. Just wanted to throw this into the discussion.

Grace (S3.Front)

*edit*

it also lost 2" cast range and gained a 2 inf cost compared to "Empowered Voice : Speed"

 

*edit 2*

I can honestly see it having potential uses as it is not OPT and could be used to shift our guild into position on a first turn where we don't have much to spend inf on anyway.. It also makes me a little concerned about "Times Called" although an 10"/12" Friday with a 4/10" kick is a terrifying 24" (shadow like) goal threat if the current heroics stay the same...

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I still don't understand how swapping empowered voice for tooled up, quick foot and aria is a loss of flavour. Before she something other squaddies did, but for free, now she does something unique, but has to pay INF for it.

Okay, so it lost range and the ability to buff DEF, which might something generally being cut from the game in S4 if Ox is anything to go off, or at least something off theme for brewer's.

Aria might be pants, it might not, it's one of those things we'll have to wait and see, but I am struggling to understand how having an ability called empowered voice is any more flavourful than having one called aria, because other than the name (If you don't care about the ranged attacks) she pretty much does what she did before.

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26 minutes ago, Redmaw said:

Grace (S3.Front)

 

In S3 it exists on one squaddie, one master, and two captains, so calling it a ”squaddie level play” is still pretty disingenious.

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Just now, malladin.ben said:

 I am struggling to understand how having an ability called empowered voice is any more flavourful than having one called aria, because other than the name (If you don't care about the ranged attacks) she pretty much does what she did before.

The way it appears to me. Aria only ever does one thing. So she's singing, but she will only ever sing the one song.

Empowering Voice changes, it's a different song, a different pace that spurs her team on in different ways based on what they need to hear.

And It Isn't Over Until, is her moment, where her voice overpowers everything else on the pitch. She can make an ally, or herself the star of the show or she can radiate her voice outwards, inspiring her entire team.

Guild Ball isn't really great at capturing flavor through gameplay imo, but Empowering Voice was pretty solid thematic play, whereas Aria is just... sortof another support aura.

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15 minutes ago, malladin.ben said:

I am struggling to understand how having an ability called empowered voice is any more flavourful than having one called aria,

It's more that Empowered Voice is more flavorful than Tooled Up or Quick Foot.. It would have been easy to just move this ability on to the front of the card and add a influence cost if they didn't want it to be used for free

13 minutes ago, Falkman said:

In S3 it exists on one squaddie, one master, and two captains, so calling it a ”squaddie level play” is still pretty disingenuous.

That's your opinion, but it still doesn't change the fact it is categorically worse than "Empowered Voice : Speed" and is still better play on Grace than any of the "captain" tier players

15 minutes ago, malladin.ben said:

she pretty much does what she did before.

..sit on my bench and scare Smoke...

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55 minutes ago, JacctheInsomniac said:

The way it appears to me. Aria only ever does one thing. So she's singing, but she will only ever sing the one song.

Empowering Voice changes, it's a different song, a different pace that spurs her team on in different ways based on what they need to hear.

And It Isn't Over Until, is her moment, where her voice overpowers everything else on the pitch. She can make an ally, or herself the star of the show or she can radiate her voice outwards, inspiring her entire team.

Guild Ball isn't really great at capturing flavor through gameplay imo, but Empowering Voice was pretty solid thematic play, whereas Aria is just... sortof another support aura.

Thanks, that does make a bit of sense. I'm not sure it's something that makes a huge deal on the table, but thanks for explaining it in a way that makes sense.

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17 hours ago, JacctheInsomniac said:

The way it appears to me. Aria only ever does one thing. So she's singing, but she will only ever sing the one song.

Empowering Voice changes, it's a different song, a different pace that spurs her team on in different ways based on what they need to hear.

Way too much fluff for my taste. It's a game, it's a game built with competitive play in mind. If I had to choose between better rules and better representation of fluff in the game I'd pick better rules every day. And a Character Play that allows a player a free Heroic Play still isn't the same as just an Aura with free Heroic Plays.

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3 hours ago, Edek said:

Way too much fluff for my taste. It's a game, it's a game built with competitive play in mind. If I had to choose between better rules and better representation of fluff in the game I'd pick better rules every day. And a Character Play that allows a player a free Heroic Play still isn't the same as just an Aura with free Heroic Plays.

Eh, different people play the game for different reasons. For me it was because the tactile experience of moving models across the table was wholly unique to my gaming experience. I was just explaining why Empowered Voice had a stronger thematic resonance than Aria. It runs parallel to how it provides more evocative gameplay, but isn't reliant on it.

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People keep telling me season 4 will be good, but after disappointing players with Esters' card, SFG spoiled Stave's card thinking it would help. That doesn't bode well for the rest of the Brewers guild balance.

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17 hours ago, Sardonic Artery said:

People keep telling me season 4 will be good, but after disappointing players with Esters' card, SFG spoiled Stave's card thinking it would help. That doesn't bode well for the rest of the Brewers guild balance.

If the "main six" are still good, it'll be enough. 😁

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