Okay, then. Last time, I blathered about accruing influence with a variety of Mercenary factions, all of whom can bring different styles and abilities to the table. Mandrakes are your stealth fighters, Scourges are ranged recon, Hellions are highly manoeuvrable melee fighters, Wyches are consummate close combat experts, Incubi are heavily armoured, hard hitting monsters. I think Mercs will be an all-round assault/ranged option with brute resilience, Haemonculi covens add pure resilience and slaves have great numbers, but nothing else going for them. Each of these factions can bring a different style of play to an encounter and can present a different tactical challenge for an opponent.
Obviously, the temptation could well be to pick one faction in particular and stick with it to the bitter end, making use of the allegiance system I mentioned in Phase 2 to gain better rates and higher quality hirelings. This could be a bad thing as it could rob Kabals of individuality or provide disproportionate advantages. How should I combat this? As I mentioned in an earlier post, one way to do this would be to inflict penalties to allegiance based on casualty rates. This would cause the player to have to weigh up how cautious he would be with his hirelings. This also has the side effect of giving your opponents some level of influence on your allegiances. If they want to stop you gaining favour with a Wych Cult, then they can go out of their way to kill your hired Wyches, letting you take a hit in you Wych allegiance and stymieing your progress with them. Adding a voluntary additional objective like this could add a nice bit of extra depth to the conflicts. I don’t want it to go too far though. Otherwise all the games would end in a ‘kill the hirelings’ mess.
The rate of allegiance gain or loss would have to be balanced, which is always the knottiest problem in any games system. Well, with a couple of exceptions. Obviously, if one Kabal keeps going out of its way to kill Wyches, it won’t be gaining any favour with the Wyches any time soon. This leads me to the idea of simultaneously decreasing the allegiances of Faction-killers, forcing some sense of risk/reward into their actions as well.
Maybe a non-combat way of enhancing allegiances would be useful here? A simple purchasing system could work. Spend a certain amount of money (what do Dark Eldar use as currency anyway?) to gain a certain number of allegiance points or favour or whatever. If I’m going to do that, I should really grade the costs, so that when your allegiance is very high or very low, it costs a good deal to raise it any more, whereas the middling rates are a lot cheaper. This would allow players to better make up for murdering opposing hirelings, provided they were smart about it.
A further idea is that of negative allegiance or active disfavour. This would actively set the slighted faction against the offending Kabal, offering cheap rates (or maybe even providing free troops) in encounters against them. Obviously, you wouldn’t be able to hire any faction in negative allegiance, giving further incentive to keep on the good side of varying factions, which again plays into the feel of the world. The one exception to this allegiance system as I see it, would be Slaves.
Slaves obviously wouldn’t have any organised faction or any allegiance to them. You fight for whoever owns you. So what’s to stop a Kabal from flooding the field with chaff and wearing down their opponents with attrition wars against unworthy adversaries? Well, the way I see things, a Kabal relies on its Slaves to bring in the income. Working metal shops, equipment halls weapons manufacturing, you name it. One way or another, it’s the Slaves that are going to do the work. A Kabalite wouldn’t lower himself to petty manual labour. So, by fielding Slaves in the conflicts, you get a cheap (or free) mass of unskilled and poorly-equipped combatants, albeit at the cost of potentially weakening your overall financial position in-between games. It also provides a potential mission-hook of directly attacking the slaves of another Kabal to weaken them for later.
Of course, Slaves won’t be the only way of accruing funds for a Kabal. There are always Realspace raids, but I think that’ll be for another time…
See you later! (Or not)