In my latest Sedition Wars excursion I decided to solo the first scenario in the Lights Out! Camapaign. In this free downloadable campaign the Vanguard and Strain fight in the lower levels of Alabaster Station often in darkness or near darkness conditions. Get your copy here!
The Vanguard have the option to use "Opticamo" mode, which makes them immune to reflexes when not adjacent and can give them cover bonuses, etc. The Strain can benefit from "Nano-genesis" and become glow in the dark, giving them the ability to see and bee seen as normal in the dark, regenerate wounds, and create even more nano when killed.
I was curious to see how these scenarios, which I had not had a chance to try with Version 1, would play under 1.5. Let's see how it went.
Vanguard and Strain forces set up. For forces, I used the suggested "Loadouts" of the scenario.
On turn one the Vanguard got 7 tactics tokens, and spread them two to the Reaver and Lancer, and one to three of the 4 Samaritans. They advanced down tile 1 intent on their mission: to secure control of the power fuse! The Strain chose not to move in turn 1 as the Vanguard had to come to them.
The Strain retaliated by advancing into close combat, killing one of the Opticamo Vanguard and infecting the other. Infected Vanguard cannot retain Opticamo or enter Opticamo mode, so the increased virulence of nano in V 1.5 really limits Opticamo usage. I chose to infect as many models as possible during the Strain turns to prevent Opticamo use.
On Turn 3 the Vanguard tried to continue their advance. Another Samaritan used Opticamo and the infected Samaritan moved, drawing fire as Opticamo camo was not longer effective. (Note I had forgotten to change out the figure.) Another Revenant took two Samaritan shots and turned into nano dust.
The Strain use nano to make another Revenant and infect another Samaritan. One Samaritan gets hit with a tendril and is also infected. The Samaritan on Rile 2 takes a Vitrifier shot to the back, liquefying instantly. (Not really but game wise a Samaritan hit by the Vitrifier takes 3 damage and then dies at the beginning of its next its activation due to 3 more from corrosion, so yeah basically she was already dead.) Things are looking grim for our heroes.
Deciding that they have waited long enough, the Reaver and the Lancer go full camo, enter Tile two, and light up two Revenants and the Quasimodo. Only the Quasi survives, thanks to the Lancer's failure to roll any staging dice (6s).
The Strain realize that the Vanguard are clustered together, feeling secure in their Opticamo goodness. Therefore, several of their models engage nanogenesis. This means, among other things, that the Quasimodo will be able to fire at the Vanguard despite the darkness, the Prowler can heal, and if the Revenant dies it will create double nano. The Strain infect the Opticamo models for good measure. (Oh and I tried to take a pic with the lights out and the Strain models glowing but it didn't work, sorry.)
And so the Quasi focuses his Vitrifier attack, offsetting the penalty of the Opticamo (plus one die to cancel minus one die) and rolls an exploding 6 to make the shot. He therefore hits and corrodes both Vanguard specialists and for all practical purposes seals the game.
On the final Vanguard turn, the specialists melt to nothing, and the Prowler guts another Samaritan in reflex. Oh, the humanity! The last Samaritan decides to die in a blaze of glory. She charges into Tile 2, taking a Vitrifier shot to the face, then overloads on the glowing Strain Quasimodo, killing it in revenge for its 3-kill rampage. Four kills, I suppose, if you count the suicide charger.
"Die, you ugly bastard! Pew Pew Pew!!! YAAATAHH!!"
The moment of glory is short lived as on the final Strain turn, the Prowler, not patient enough to wait for the next Vanguard turn, walks up and guts our heroine like a fish. All Vanguard models are now dead, and we must draw the curtain on this brutal scene of carnage.
"Nomnom...send more Vanguard...nomnom."
Conclusions: Well, that was fun to mess around with, and I enjoyed putting my see-through and glow-in-the-dark toys on the table, but I don't think the scenario is competitive under the new rules. Infection negates Opticamo, and infection is now automatic when nano moves onto a Vanguard model in the Strain force managment phase. This makes it pretty easy to shut down Opticamao in the Lights Out Campaign. And frankly, Opticamo is kind of the point. Nanogenesis was somewhat superseded by the 1.5 rules, all all exo-forms can now heal with adjacent nano, not just ones using nanogensis. In addition, the old Ver. 1.0 nemesis of the Vanguard, the Quasimodo, is even better than he was before. Because Vanguard Samaritans now have a defense of 15, the Quasi hits on average, non focused rolls. Each hit equals a dead vanguard and the rest in the blast will take 3 damage their first activation after being hit and have a 50% chance of dying the turn after than, if there is no healing around. (Note I accidentally gave the Lancer in the blast 3 damage as well as the Reaver, who was the target. That is wrong but I don't think it would have made a difference in the end!)
This scenario also suffers from the "single doorway" problem SW scenarios are prone to. I find a nice Quasimodo or two covering the sole doorway from cover to be quite a good way to stop a Vanguard advance cold. Maybe the next scenario in the campaign with more than two tiles, will be more interesting.
So the real problem is still nano. It's just too strong right now. I think the other balance issues could be corrected with a few tweaks, but the 1.5 nano rules are going to wreck Lights Out! because Opticamo just fails before auto-infection.
Proposed house rule fix for Lights Out: Infected models can still use Opticamo. Alternately, make nano infection only work on a 4+ roll during the Strain management phase.
See you next time in the horrific reaches of deep space!