Hey all, GiledPallaeon again, back with another article about Star Wars: Armada. This isn’t a battle report, at least not specifically. Rather, I’d like to sit down and try to capture some lightning in a bottle and put together some thoughts about how to approach maneuver and deception in Armada.
About a month ago, I was on Twitter and ended up having this conversation here. It wasn’t planned, more of a spur of the moment discussion. This article is intended to try to be a more formal writeup and distillation of those thoughts and ideas into something other players can use to think about how they approach the game and hopefully improve their understanding of the game. Without further ado, the Fundamentals of Maneuver.
For the purposes of this discussion, we’re going to make some simplifying assumptions. Assumption 1: you are intending to win your game of Armada. Assumption 2: we’re going to ignore objectives, for the most part. They are an absolutely critical part of your game plan, but for now they’re either irrelevant, or going to muddy the waters, so we’re ignoring them. However, what this means vis a vis Assumption 1 is that you are intending to win via force of arms. You are intending to destroy your opponent’s ships and squadrons (hereafter Red, to your Blue), and you are intending to minimize your casualties, preferably to zero, but at least to less value than you extract from Red.
Any armchair tactician knows the best way to break your opponent is to apply more strength than his defenses can withstand, rinsing and repeating as necessary. This is often idealized into something along the lines of “Apply your strength at your opponent’s weakest point.” This is a good goal, but it’s a rather lofty one. It involves, in no particular order, identifying the most vulnerable element of your opponent’s plan, which may not be the point that would die the fastest, identifying what Red’s potential counterattack options are, and defeating those before Red is able to enable them. That’s a tall order. More practically, I suggest you look for opportunities more generally to apply strength that overmatches Red’s defenses. Ideally we want to economize effort so that we can do this quickly and efficiently, but overmatch at all is a necessary prerequisite.
In order to do this, we need to know our own strengths, and we need to identify potential overmatches for our opponent. The easiest way to do this in Armada is to consider threat ranges. A “threat range” is basically “Given that Ship X is at Relative Position 1 of Ship Y, what damage should Ships X and Y expect in an exchange?” For example, a CR90 at medium range of the front arc of an ISD 2 is in a lot of danger, whereas the ISD, while likely to take damage if the CR90 lives long enough to shoot, is almost certainly fine. Conversely, if the CR90 is in the rear arc of the ISD, neither poses much threat to the other. I suggest reviewing expected damage for various arcs and dice combinations, but also review the various ship cards and ranges yourself. Book learning is no substitute for experience.
I don't think I need to tell you that CR90 is dead.
That’s all quite obvious, but we haven’t gotten to the meat of our problem yet. Conventionally, when you examine a ship’s firing arcs, battery dice, and upgrades, you are considering its threat range in a 2D space centered on the ship. Here’s the catch: A game of Armada is not 2D, it’s 3D, the third dimension being the all important dimension of time. Let’s go back to that CR90/ISD example When the CR90 is in the front arc of the ISD, and the ISD is going to activate first (for whatever reason), the CR90 is in a lethal threat zone. However, if the CR90 is activating first and had properly planned their maneuver to evade the ISD’s front arc once it is complete, the CR90 is no longer in a lethal threat zone. From the ISD’s point of view, the CR90 never occupied the lethal zone, only two different positions outside of it.
Wait a minute...
For this reason, one of the most important attributes of a ship’s threat range is impossible to compute off the table: what is the board state influencing the ship? What is its current speed? What options does it have to change speed, or to change heading? Given everything else going on in the game, where will the threat zones be the next time that ship is activating? Where should my ships be, relative to that future state, to put Red’s ship in my lethal zones? How can I stack my lethal zones to maximize fire on target while minimizing risk in return?
This is a fully dynamic problem. There are many moving parts, not all of which you can directly influence. Obviously, there are trivial solutions to the problem. If you have absolute superiority (almost certainly due to skill imbalance, before or during the game), you can apply that superiority, in military terms that overmatch, directly across a wide front of your opponent’s fleet and destroy them at your leisure. Activation advantage and possession of first player can mimic this overall overmatch in the hands of a moderate player. The challenge is then incumbent on second player to inflict more losses of hulls on first player than they are receiving in return to eventually break the chain, while first player is attempting to hold the advantage.
That’s not an interesting case though. (Trivial solution is the mathematical term.) What about matches between players of equal skill, who must apply the differential strengths of their fleets to achieve victory? In my opinion, we now have a much more interesting challenge. Each player is conducting those 3D threat zone calculations I mentioned above. Each player will be attempting to predict the other player’s options, and how they can mitigate the mitigations if necessary. How does either player gain an advantage in this situation? One answer: their opponent’s threat calculations must be in error, and that error must be a designed intent of the maneuver plan and board state. Now, ladies, gentlemen, and assorted others, we move out of Maneuver into its close relative: Deception/Aggro.
The following rules are not the only way to deceive your opponent, nor are they intended to be authoritative. These rules are intended as Pirate Rules, i.e. guidelines, to help you understand how to shape your opponent’s play to your own ends.
Rule 0: Control the release of information from you to your opponent. This was mentioned many many years ago when I wrote my double ISD post. It still holds true today. We can argue for quite a while about whether “Deception”, “Aggro”, or any number of other terms (“Maskirovka”, kind of) apply to what we are trying to discuss here, but fundamentally we are trying to create our own plan that will defeat our opponent’s plan without giving Red the same opportunity to us as Blue. The first, foremost, and most important thing you can do is avoid giving away information you don’t have to.
As an example, one of the most common giveaways I see is using the maneuver tool obviously beyond where you can go this round. Slower ships (HMC80s, Interdictors, Peltas, etc) do this a lot, but it applies to a lot of ships when they are moving slowly. Don’t drop your full two activation maneuver plan on your speed 4 template even though you are speed 2. If necessary, estimate by flipping back and forth between the maneuver tool for this movement and the range ruler and estimated future positions. You’re still giving me information, but I’m getting a lot less and I have to make less accurate estimates of my own. Similarly, don’t measure a range that is not obviously under immediate discussion. I’ll notice, and I’ll think about why. Assume your opponent is smarter than you; that way, you’re either right, or pleasantly surprised.
Congratulations, the ISD can now pre-emptively double arc you.
Some other examples: If you are outdeployed, take objectives that narrow the battlespace to an area you can concentrate your forces. When approaching the enemy, maintain a dispersed formation that can mutually support but does not offer obvious forking targets. Keep that flexible formation that can hit any number of points across Red’s fleet until the last possible second. Especially against bombers, not revealing where they need to go can be game-winning. Flipping this on its head, consider what maneuvers you can do to force your opponent to reveal their plan. Paul Tomashevskiy used this very skillfully in our last game at NOVA. By cutting the Super's speed to 0 then back up to 2 with a sharp turn he changed where the engagement would occur several times, and tried to get me to show my hand. Unfortunately for him, my nerve held (if only barely).
As a final note on this rule, it is possible to deceive someone who has perfect information. It is however extraordinarily difficult. Unless you have a very keen grasp of that person’s psychology, and present the full information in a way that they misinterpret it, the opportunity for deception is entirely reliant on a mental mistake by Red. NEVER assume Red will make a mistake. You’ll live a lot longer that way.
Rule 1: Give Red as many chances to screw up as you can engineer. Fundamentally, the goal of your deceptive tactics is to force an error that you can exploit. The best chance of accomplishing this goal is to give your opponent as many chances as possible to make that error.
To be inescapably clear, I am not advocating in any way, shape, or form, you verbally harass, physically annoy, or otherwise deploy underhanded tactics to distract your opponent. DO NOT DO THIS. Under the current FFG Floor Rules, you will be removed, and you will deserve it. I will do it personally at tournaments I am judging.
What you can do, however, is look for opportunities to subvert expectations, which may cause an unnecessary reevaluation of the game state on the part of your opponent. When you have multiple valid strike options, exercise them in different 2D parts of the board in succession, to keep Red’s attention shifting from one ship to another, and back again. If the Squall fighters have begun their attack run on the B-wings, attack Yavaris’s side arc from another direction with your Arquitens from a flanking position.
Mmmm, squishy Yavaris side arcs...
Rule 2: One of the most effective ways to distract someone from their original plan is to present a credible threat to that plan. I cannot stress the word “credible” enough. If I am lining up Demolisher to attack Gallant Haven, a CR90 sitting off to the side in TRC range of where I am likely to end my attack is not a credible threat. Three unactivated B-wings sitting in that position are a credible threat.
Left: Uncredible threat. Right: a dead Demo flying.
There are several game mechanics centered around giving a player the opportunity to apply this rule with only minimal opportunity by their opponent to pre-empt it, only react to it. These are the Hyperspace Assault objective (what are you going to do about Landmonition double-arcing Home One’s nose), the Profundity title, and Admiral Raddus. Deploying these threats in positions where the target either cannot escape or can only escape into somewhere else you want them to be can be extremely effective, as noted by the fact it’s an entire Commander power.
Rule 2A: Threats are not the same thing as lures. Use threats extensively, lures rarely. A carefully placed threat does not need to expose itself to danger. By definition, a lure is attempting to invite attack and therefore does need exposure to danger. Overlapping Ackbar TRCR90s are a threat where their firing solutions overlap. Paragon sticking its neck out where the broadside arc does not cover the likely Red approach is an attempt at a lure. The point of this exercise is for Red’s threat calculations to fail. By making threat calculations of your own, you are providing that exact opportunity to Red. Lures are a risk, and risks by definition should be managed and mitigated. Only use lures when absolutely necessary, and be aware that if the lure is safe enough to put it out there, Red has probably made the same calculation, making the lure entirely ineffective.
To quote a Gungan General, "Big ouch"
Rule 2B: A non-credible threat exposing itself to danger is not a threat, it’s a poorly deployed lure (e.g. only one of those Ackbar CR90s putting itself within reach of a QTC Vader Cymoon). Credible threats may be exposed to danger but must be entirely survivable to the danger (more on this next).
Rule 3: Maintain continuous assessments of danger. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, part of our objectives is force preservation. The survivability state of a ship (hull damage, shield values, defense tokens) is a time-based function. Your objective is that by the end of Time = Round 6, more of Red’s ships have the state of their ship summed to maximum hull damage than yours. (For the mathematically inclined, the integral of the ship’s state for 0 -> 6+ is the quantity we are measuring). The inverse of this function is the danger the ship is exposed to. The sum of the danger should stay within the possible survivability margin to some difference you as a player are comfortable with.
As part of your threat calculations, it will frequently be necessary to expose your ship to danger. The addition of the Salvo token on the Starhawk and the Onager makes this ever more critical to continuously assess danger. Your intent must include rules about what is that acceptable level of danger, and what levels of risk are acceptable for what level of danger. Sovereign can weather more danger than a Quasar, but it is still vulnerable. Of the utmost importance however, is setting some aggregated level of danger after which, where possible, the ship (or squadron) will attempt to disengage. For lighter/cheaper units (hello generic squadrons), that disengagement threshold may not exist. For high value units (HVUs) like Large base combatants, flagships, and other key components, knowing when to bug out is of critical importance.
Rule 3A: Corollary for competitive players: as a matter of human cognitive patterns, I recommend experimenting with danger thresholds. I recommend conducting these experiments while you are simultaneously experimenting with the exact complements of your fleet. During practice runs after the fleet is settled, tuning those thresholds is wise, but major changes are not. In a tournament, especially a longer one, you will become mentally fatigued and revert to well-practiced habits. Make sure those are the habits you want them to be.
Rule 3B: As a personal observation, I have not found risk versus reward to be a linear relationship, nor is there an S-curve. In my experience, it is a bell curve, where there are acceptable amounts of risk and reward, as well as rewards with no risk, and risks worth no reward/capable of giving none. As an example of the latter, a Raider (of any kind, with any upgrade suite) is not capable of destroying a HMC80 under the vast majority of circumstances by itself. If such a situation arises, where it is either mathematically impossible to achieve a reward, or highly improbable, any level of risk for that is automatically unacceptable, as you cannot gain anything from it, while Red can.
Rule 3C: This loops back to Rule 3A, but it’s important enough to warrant its own bullet: once you have set some disengagement (i.e. retreat) thresholds. DO NOT VIOLATE DISENGAGEMENT THRESHOLDS. Say it with me, class. DO. NOT. VIOLATE. DISENGAGEMENT. THRESHOLDS. Under only the most extreme circumstances (flipping the game result entirely) should you even consider violating disengagement metrics. You should have experimented and tested them. You came up with those metrics for a reason. You are not necessarily at your best at the table, especially later in a tournament. Current Blue should trust Old Blue. You are giving Red a free opportunity for you to make a mistake. Do not assume Red will miscalculate the same way you did.
Rule 4: Overload Red’s priority planning. I don’t know how most people think, but when I am playing, I am maintaining multiple lists in my head simultaneously. One list is the priority targeting for Red’s ships (what’s the most valuable/most killable thing of mine Red can shoot at). The other lists are what I believe Red’s priority list for my ships looks like (all else held equal, Red shoots my flagship over a support flotilla, etc), and what Red’s actual firing solutions look like (is the flagship in range). Balancing these lists is key to finding opportunities to enforce your will on your opponent.
Rule 4A: Most of us are grown adults with children, so this will be easy to think about: pretend your opponent is a small child. Frequently you will have to make moves that present your opponent with a choice. Make absolutely sure all of Red’s choices are acceptable to you if they are chosen. If there is an outlier that is most detrimental to you, assume Red will take it. Worst case, now you know what Red is doing. Best case, Red has made a mistake, and you can go from there. If Avenger has to deploy Boarding Troopers against a CR90 or a Comms Net flotilla, make sure General Dodonna isn’t riding that CR90.
Do I squish a fly with the sledgehammer, or a gnat? Decisions, decisions.
Rule 4B: Where possible, not only overload his target priority but overload his activation priority. This goes back to presenting threats. Red’s ISD may want to wait for my Pelta to come into range for a quick and easy kill. However, if Admonition is sitting in the ISD’s side arc, Red may not have the luxury of waiting for the Pelta, even though it is the optimal move for applying damage to me.
Admo says, "Leave." ISD says, "Yes sir."
This tactic will grow more effective if multiple Red HVUs are simultaneously threatened. In chess this is called a fork. However, where I recommend a distinction that is difficult to replicate in chess, prioritize threatening multiple Red HVUs with multiple assets of your own. Point your ISD at the vulnerable side of Mon Karren, while Demolisher is lined up on two CR90s. Individually, MK is the HVU, but if Demolisher can rapidly flip activation advantage in Imperial favor, the CR90s are also now collectively an HVU. Removing either threat has the added bonus of not affecting the other threat. No matter what Red chooses, you’re happy (Rule 4A).
Who dies first?
Rule 5: Keep moving and set the operational tempo. Obviously this is easiest to do with last/first, or even just activation advantage, but combine the above techniques into dictating the flow of battle. Red should always be assumed to do what Red thinks is best, but if that is an irrelevant action, you maintain the tactical and strategic initiative. You as Blue in that situation are in the driver’s seat, choosing what ships, both Blue and Red, are exposed to what lethal threat zones, when they are exposed, and what ships can move out of what danger when. This is the ideal state of deception where deception no longer matters. Your strategic control may now reveal whatever information it so desires, because the information is now immaterial. This state is rarely truly stable, and must be maintained until your opponent is fully defeated, but it is the ultimate goal.
Rule 5A: I’m going to paraphrase Grand Admiral Thrawn here: Make Red the agent of their own destruction. It is extraordinarily difficult for a player to completely exert their will onto their opponent. Pure overmatch is extremely rare. What instead should be the goal is to identify elements of Red’s plan that you as Blue can subvert and use to advance your plans. You now no longer have to spend the energy forcing the relative positions into what you need because Red is unwittingly helping you. For example, luring Imperial swarm aces forward to hit your squadrons will also pull the carrier in that direction, even with Boosted Comms. That carrier may now be more vulnerable or out of position for something else. Review information control (Rule 0) to better understand this.
Rule 5B: In the firearms world, there is a saying: “Don’t point your weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot”. The same applies to attacks from your fleet. Do not engage scenarios you cannot obviously win. In all situations, maintain an escape vector if it becomes clear that your original threat calculations (yours on Red, or Red on you) were incorrect. Where possible, put the attacking ship in the “immunity zone” of your opponent. Their “immunity zone” is any position wherein even if an unfavorable activation order is forced, the attacking ship is exposed to acceptable danger. Preferably this danger is guaranteed to be non-fatal (thus “immunity zone”).
As a corollary to this, shooting your way clear by destroying the ships directly on your path is an acceptable escape vector/plan. However, because Armada is a game of dice, remember that this is a risk. Be conservative in your estimates of damage that you can generate, and assume optimal defense token use when you estimate whether you can shoot your way out to be sure that you will be able to shoot your way clear, should the situation on the board change in such a way to force that option. As an example, a double-arcing ACM Kuat with a reroll source and Boarding Vader can last/first any Large off the table. However, it needs good damage rolls to do it, and preferably be doing it to a softened up target. If that softening hasn’t happened, make sure the Kuat will still be there once it has happened, and that the threats along her escape vector don’t pose the remaining level of threat required to be lethal.
Rule 5C: Alternate targets are a must. When presenting a credible threat, a good way to make Red make a mistake is to give Red a choice. When the Super Star Destroyer activates, it can shoot either Admonition or it can shoot Defiance. Which ship will Red choose to try to save? If Admo is in a lethal zone, that’s an urgent issue. However, if Defiance can escape into areas where the Super won’t be able to generate enough damage for the rest of the game to kill it if it moves now, what choice do you make? There are many, what a researcher might call state variables that answer this question on the table that this example doesn’t have. (How much is Defiance’s risk lowered, what is the state of Defiance and Admo, what’s the objective situation, etc.) However, by presenting both threats with a lethal (eventually lethal in Defiance’s case) threat, the Super Star Destroyer has taken control of the tempo of activations, and retained the ability to hurt Red regardless of its choice.
Which fried fish dish do I serve first?
For a more concentrated discussion on what tempo can and might look like for different fleets, please see this post by Ginkapo, now hosted on his blog.
Rule 6: Never assume Red will willingly make an error. I’ve been hammering this point several times throughout this discussion, but this really, really needs to be clear. In a high stakes game (e.g. Worlds, Prime cut for a Worlds invite, etc.), it is extremely likely your opponent is either better than you, or at least as good. No one intentionally makes mistakes. When you are trying to engineer a mistake on your opponent’s part, bear this in mind, so that you can appropriately plan for when they don’t fall for an obvious gambit.
For advanced users, please see the following Advanced Rules (again not at all exhaustive, just what I have for you right now.)
Rule 7: Your opponent is doing all of this to you too. Both of you came into the game with a game plan. The game is now a contest to see who can better execute their plan on the table. Your choices are either to fully execute your plan first (e.g. table Red), or remove their victory condition (deny the objective, send a ship out to prevent tabling, etc.). Follow through on whichever is your plan/victory condition. As an example of somewhere objectives matter, acceptable losses may be higher to a list consistently earning 12-15 Fire Lanes tokens than a list playing non-scoring objectives.
Rule 7A: Where possible, figure out what Red’s plan is. At a high level, you should be doing this as soon as you review each other’s fleet lists at the beginning of the game. Review the threats. Short-ranged brawler ships? Red range artillery? Sloane fighter superiority? Rieekan Achole bombers? Knowing the outlines of your opponent’s probable plan is key to divining their exact plan, and will make that happen much faster. It is essential that you remain aware of this plan so that you do not accidentally feed it. If you are playing Precision Strike, don’t give him ram damage to freely flip on your starship. If he is trying to use Rift Ambush to pull your ships out of formation, or Surprise Attack so they start out of formation, account for that in your own deployment and maneuvers, and prevent it as best you can.
If your opponent does actually match you in skill, do not expect to get away with a free lunch. Combat is fundamentally democractic; Red gets a vote too. Sometimes it will be necessary to accept losses to win the battle/war. Give up the light ship to draw off the enemy bombers. Lose the brace token to Intel Officer, knowing you can kill the ship carrying it or evade further damage.
Rule 8: Stick to the plan, and don’t try to break his plans if that wasn’t your plan to begin with. Obviously for a major tournament your list and/or (preferably and) tactics should have solutions to the problems posed by all major archetypes you expect to be present at the event. Sometimes those plans will directly attack those of your opponent. For example, squadless lists will frequently bring Slicer Tools to interfere with the squadron commands of carriers. Super Star Destroyers prefer to answer it by using Quad Laser Turrets, Agent Kallus, and aggressive use of anti-squadron fire.
However, occasionally on the table, you will be presented opportunities to more directly attack your opponent’s plan. Going back to Rule 6, don’t assume what you believe to be a mistake is in fact a mistake. If attempting to exploit the supposed error is a deviation from your plan, I can only recommend that you not follow through. As I have previously stated as my opinion, you will probably not be at your best when you are at the table, particularly during later rounds where this applies to Red too. By changing course mid-stream so to speak, you are inviting unforeseen variables to interfere with your calculations. Unknown variables are just that, unknown, and present the exact sort of dangerous risk I have recommended here again and again you take all reasonable steps as Blue to mitigate. Go for it if you’re sure, just don’t blame me later.
I can't claim I am always doing any of the above totally consciously. My playstyle, as elaborated in my NOVA writeup, tends to be rather seat of the pants, an in-the-moment rhythm I either have or I don't. I'm doing all of this and none of it at once. This is my attempt to discretize my process into usable ideas that I have specifically identified for myself in the past. Hopefully this is educational, informative, thought provoking, or otherwise a productive read for you. This isn’t an easy subject to put on paper beyond vague generalities, and I won’t necessarily claim I did much better here. But I do hope you the reader got something from this today, and I hope that one day you too can contribute your own nugget of information to the state of Armada thought.
Many thanks to @Snipafist, @geek19, @Formynder4, @shmitty, and several others for helping me hone these ideas, particularly in the format you see before you. Additional thanks to the bloggers at Steel Command for agreeing to host this writeup there as well.
Until next time, this is GiledPallaeon signing off. Good luck, good hunting, and Godspeed.
I agree for the most part, @Darth Lupine, but when you are defending, you don't get to choose what world you'll be receiving rewards from. And while it's true that you may be able to use the rewards from one of your bases instead, it might be that one of your teammates wants to use that mechanic (only one player per team gets to do that). So there's the possibility that your fleet will get rewards that are sub-optimal. In that case, this mechanic lets you make slight adjustments.
I agree, though, that this is not the best way to optimize your fleet.
To be clear. Let’s say you have a TIE squadron. You scrap it for four points. You can only use those four points to buy more squadrons. You can’t use them to buy, say, turbo lasers, even if you have a base that makes turbo lasers available to you. At least that’s how I understand the system.
I for one don’t ever use this refit system. I design a 250 point fleet. Then I work backwards to my starting fleet. Then I build towards my end goal. No need to be retrofitting anyway.
We just finished Act one and will be having the pivotal battle soon. As Empire we started with Mygeeto, Kessel and Bespin. We now also have bases on Nal Hutta and Mandalore.
I played last week in our RitR campaign against two MC75, and I was running a VSD and two Gladiatiors. I tabled my opponent and only lost one Gladiator. I think it's too early to be making any changes.
I must respectfully agree with your disagreement of my original assertion 😅
Page 4 of the FAQ clearly states a commander cannot be equipped to a flotilla, and a Task Force commander is still a commander. Therefore, flotilla flagships are a no-go in RitR (until someone else comes along and proves otherwise). Please forgive my mistake. I thought this particular ruling was in the Tournament Regs, along with the part about flotillas and tabling, in which case it wouldn't apply to campaign play, but it's right there in the FAQ.
I think @Darth Lupine has a point. Spending the token isn't the cost of Piett's ability. Instead, Piett's ability changes the effect of resolving a command via a token. If this interpretation were true, @Karneck, how would that affect your argument?
Part of it, is that you are firing on point with almost everything, but you have to take the entire rulebook into account to connect the rest of what is going on and how things are getting changed.
And a large part of that is related to the rule I quoted from RRG
and the words "as if" and "instead" In Pietts wording.
So you've picked up the token said "I'm spending it". Now if you were to do NOTHING else, the spent token would resolve as a token only, for the concentrate fire command.
But that's not what is happening.
You "spent" the concentrate fire token, but before you do anything to "resolve" it, you have triggered the timing window of Wulff AND Piett. In this timing window, you have chosen to trigger both Wulffs and Pietts card ability.
ANYTIME something shares the same timing window, the PLAYER chooses the order in which to resolve those card effects. So in this timing window, you trigger Wulffs card ability, you have now regained a command token of the same type that was spent.
Now you can choose to trigger Pietts ability, as it is still in the same timing window.
Per RRG: "If a token is spent as part of a cards effect cost, that token does not also produce its normal effect".
To break it down, the spent token is still waiting there to be used, now you have decided you wanted it to be spent to resolve Pietts card effect, which costs a token to be spent to activate it. Since the token was spent in this way, it no longer produces that tokens effect / command.
Because now Piett has taken that token, and "resolves that command as if it had spent a dial of the same type instead."
Meaning that the token has vanished, it never existed, in its place is now a DIAL resolving that command. Because that is what Pietts ability allows it to do, take the token and transform it into a beautiful dial.
Now that you have a dial, as given to you by Piett, you now resolve that command AS a Dial. As far as the gamestate is concerned at this point, the token never existed, because it was spent as part of a cards cost, and thus does not produce its normal effect.
To end it, even though a token was spent. You used a card ability to change that spent token, so that a dial was spent instead, the token never existed.
I understand it is hard to follow, but this is not a case of picking and choosing which wording you want to believe in for each moment in how this resolves. You need a firm understanding of the entire rulebook and apply all of it equally.
Not really. I understand what you are trying to say, mind you. I simply disagree with your interpretation.
I don't believe the token gets 'changed' into a dial. Let's assume Wulf is not on board. You spend the token. That token is now gone, and so unavailable to be changed into anything. You now apply Piett. The token is resolved 'as if' which to me simply means you get to add a dice instead, but you still spent a token, NOT a dial.
I appreciate the tenacity your showing here. You want to understand not just why the engine works, but the internals of it all as well.
I can absolutely respect that and I encourage you in this effort, how can I help with that?