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  1. I just want to echo the other players who would love more life for the Imperial Assault skirmish and campaign scene. There's so much content space to explore, and the designers for skirmish were really starting to address some of the meta issues with Hunter dominance. The Spectre Cell swing was too far away, but the toolbox of high health figures, Doubt to stop focus power-ups, hand-attacks such as Hostile Negotiations, and Thrawn as an Imperial mainstay was really phenomenally well thought out. I would return to this game so hard if it had regular content; as it is, I've started buying into Malifaux instead of being known as the guy who promoted IA at my LGS.
  2. What are your wildest hopes for the new articles at: https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/news/2019/3/18/prepare-your-strike-team/ and https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/news/2019/3/18/new-maps-new-challenges/ Speculations abound that the ewok art might portend a figure wave, and there's plenty of content for canon like Rogue One or the new films (or even the prequels) that we haven't had a chance to buy up and paint yet. What would you love to see come to skirmish?
  3. Thanks for posting it here, @brettpkelly -- slight difference in the RRG for "Counting Spaces," which reads: To determine this number, the player counts the number of movement points it would take for a figure to move from one space to the other. Impassable terrain, figures, and difficult terrain can be moved into and through without costing additional movement point for this measurement. This measurement cannot go through walls, doors, or blocking terrain. I think we missed earlier that the rule specifically says "This measurement cannot go through walls, doors, or blocking terrain," which probably stops Sabine's grenade-tracing even IF we apply the "general figure on blocking" rules you mentioned from the Zion's Finest slack-channel thread. So I think I've talked myself back to the "Sabine can't grenade from the center of the spire" position.
  4. As for As for the above: The only way to combat this is to have prominent players stop worrying that the sky is falling! An IG-88 or a Han/Rangers list can still get off 3-5 unanswered shots with hunter cards pretty easily: I think it's telling that you can run a list with only cards from Jabba's Realm (and either IG or Han's fix card) and toe up evenly with Spectre Cell on most maps. I think Han/Rangers even has an advantage on Mos Eisley B, Tarkin A, and at least Uscru A, with probably even at least on Tarkin B and Uscru B. Any 7-act Han or Vader list is going to exert tons of round-one pressure on Spectre Cell because of their EoR possibility. SC can hit three times in an activation (Pummel or Zeb + SC), sure ... but they have to do it in round, and it takes up a big chunk of their firepower for the round. Careful ranged lists (Han/Rangers) or Combo lists that can bide their time (IG, Vader, JKL) can still hang against that triple-tap threat. Even a misplayed and exposed Vader has very good tools to stay up through those three attacks with Zillo and defensive card support, and the ability to combine him with the PB combo, Dying Lunge, or Emperor attacks offers pretty significant counterplay: if Vader lives through SC's big damage hit, he can probably remove their remaining hitter (or two), and if he swings 4 times in a game, he's going to account for a lot of the 62 health in a Spectre Cell list (50 of which are the attacking figures), and Thrawn is a great cleaner, while the Emperor is VERY good at applying precise damage amounts to surviving figures, with Tempt, Lightning, and cards like Dark Energy, Single Purpose, and Force Surge. Need even more control over what Spectre does? Run spies, and/or consider dropping your offense just a bit for cards like Comms Disrupt or the new under-utilized tools in Signal Jammer and Hostile Negotiations. Spectre Cell has good statlines, but card support really helps them explode ... and some of those cards are in the 0-1 point range (Rebel Graffiti, Force Push, Strength in Numbers, Pummel) that a single spy and Comms Disrupt does game-changing work against. All of which is to say, the player base has been self-fulfilling the self-fulfilling prophecy that SC is the only thing we can do. We can do all sorts of things! And again: Spectre Cell wouldn't be such a specter on the meta for us if we had a better release schedule and knew the meta would continue to adapt and change. I really think that SC is the identified-patient in the system of issues around Imperial Assault Organized Play right now.
  5. It really isn't that much data, though, right? Here's the data set from OP events that Kenny Brown from Zion's Finest has put together: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Nk10Q5n8Xjr2byvP-7mD5IGdDyVQVqk_BSGuTiz58fM/edit?usp=sharing Spectre Cell won 19 out of the 30 Regionals on record, sure, so that's 63%, which is a sobering number. But 30 is a small sample size in the first place, and it gets more complex: Three of those victories had fewer than 8 players, so "victory" means they were at the top of SoS at the end of Swiss rounds, and likely means they're simply 3-0 in that tournament. One of the 8+ tourneys had 6 people playing Spectre Cell ... this is its own problem, but puts an asterisk next to the 63%. At the largest US Regionals (Utah and Kansas), non-SC lists won ... and in fact no SC list was in the final. This shows that the list can struggle against a broad, diverse meta. When questions of Player Skill arise: DT won a Regionals using an 8-act scum list. The list that knocked out DT (running a Scum list) in the Seattle Regional was a Rebel Box list, not SC. In Ontario, Peter Burean knocked out Brian Vandergalien (a former nationals winner) running SC, and Peter was using a Rebel Han/Drok/Sabine list with Heavy Fire, of all things. Spectre won a large tournament in Paris ... but was being piloted by Greg Monson, the runner-up from Worlds 2018. ... but John Scott, a SC pilot and winner of multiple regionals, including Omaha this year (with SC), didn't make the finals at the Kansas Regional with SC, which included many of the same players. Some of the tourneys have really particularized storylines (you get extreme results from small sample sizes more often, no matter WHAT you study). E.g., the Omaha Regional had 3 Spectre Cell players out of 10 lists: 30% of the field. None of those lists finished the Swiss above 2-2, including John Scott. That is, the only SC list to advance to the Top-4 cut did so on Strength of Schedule. John then played on advantageous maps twice, drawing Mos Eisley A for the Top-4, and then (because of a misunderstanding) re-drawing Mos Eisley A in the final (which ended in a very close 43-39 after his Spectre Sabine dodged a critical shot), rather than proceding to the 6th map, which would have been Uscru Droids (vs Han Rangers: less of an advantageous matchup). Now, the list is good, and John is a good player (and for every bone-headed mistake he made out of fatigue in the final, I gave him one back ! XD), but that is hardly the story of an unstoppable juggernaut plowing through a field of paper doll opponents. So SC is beatable even when being run by very skilled players, and the data set we have on it is very small ... AND it includes a ton of SC losses in the Swiss rounds; there are just enough of them right now that its success becomes something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  6. So, the Zion's Finest slack channel has had a fair amount of discouragement and gloom about the prominence of Spectre Cell victories at recent regionals. It's raising the question: should something be done? I wanted to post some longer-form thoughts on it: 1) It seems likely that Spectre Cell is an "S-Tier" list. That is, its fundamental capacities are pitched higher than at least several "A-Tier" lists. 1a) Is this true? 1a.i On the one hand, Spectre Cell has very strong statlines. People have advanced the theory that this is to make up for the lack of keyword synergy (the best synergies are Force User, which doesn't have a huge powerhouse CC suite, and Smuggler, which has a balanced offensive/defensive/utility suite, though one smuggler figure is Hera). There is only one hunter (the definitive trait keyword of the previous meta), and no spies or troopers. 1a.ii Spectre Cell has access to loads of pierce attacks, which allow it to overpierce Zillo (one of the cornerstones of Imperial defenses) and often more or less ignore defending black-die results. 1aiii. The Spectre-Cell off-action attack allows multiple figures to activate at once, mitigating the lack of an eQuay or eRanger style multi-hit, and beginning to approach the value of a Vader Parting-Blow combo, although the SC figures can't approach his top-result of 10p3 without significant command card help. 1aiv. New command card tricks. The SC upgrade also allows strong work out of the Strength in Numbers card, and the Jedi melee attacks are sufficient to warrant using pummel as an offensive technique, especially when the figures have good health pools or defensive tricks (OtL access) to survive a counterstrike. Ezra's Brash resonates well with Heart of Freedom, Force Rush, and Fleet Footed to allow for significant movement before a pummel. On the other hand, Spectre Cell has consistent, known weaknesses: 1b.i. It has trouble with range: a doubt/tough luck re-roll can often make a Zeb, Hera, or Sabine shot miss, and the CC deck clutters up pretty quickly. 1b.ii. The Spectres gain significant values from staying close together, which makes them susceptible to anti-box tactics such as Drokatta shots, Vader combos, or Grenadier. This also hampers their ability to pressure multiple objectives unless they're willing to forego key tools like Hera's buff, Kanan's re-roll, or setting Ezra's die. 1b.iii. The Spectre draw speed is steady and doesn't have a lot of tools for speeding up: spending Hera actions on Planning or Black Market Prices hurts the efficiency of the list's box approach. SC also has no easy means of attacking your own cards, unlike Thrawn, strain effects, or spies. You're likely to remain in control of your own bag of tricks against a SC list. 1b.iv. SC has trouble with activation economy: we now have a mini-Queen list that Vader can readily equal or out-activate. Spectre Cell can't readily rely on having last activation, making it easy for Han Solo or Darth Vader to capitalize on an End of Round attack. The best soft-pass figure in the list is Hera, who still wants to see a lot of the board develop before she takes her position; Chopper, Ezra, Kanan, Sabine, and Zeb all have reasons for wanting to go late in the first round, and they obviously can't all do it. Compare to Vader at 7-acts or Han/Rangers, who get significantly better value out of last activation, and have an easy time securing it for multiple rounds against SC. 1b.v. The SC tap is in-round, in-activation. Strength in Numbers dramatically raises the scale of this threat, but by and large, Han and Vader's EoR attacks, IG's Blaze of Glory, or a solid eRanger CtV (I recently got hit hard by a Wildfire CtV with impressive results) offer stronger timing pressure through the first two rounds, and if SC gets sufficiently bloodied on their approach, their spike is massively blunted. In addition, the in-round SC tap can be blunted by tools such as Set for Stun, positioning, or clearing the potential next-act SC-attacker. It's a strong tool, but also a known quantity. Stunning Zeb or Kanan is particularly powerful, as they cannot be cleared by Motivation (having equal figure cost). 1b.vi. SC damage has a high low-end, but a low high-end. There are several tools that help them spike a bit, but they can't spike as high as Onar or Vader. Han with focus can consistently match their damage output, and represents a 10-point "bank" against SC. Their build renders some spiking tools redundant: Element of Surprise does a lot more for Han Solo than it does for Ezra, because Ezra's damage is built around his pierce. Han may get to 9 or 10 easily on a focused Element shot; Ezra is probably still at 7. At the end of all that, I'm happy to call SC an S-Tier list ... but let's be clear that it's strength lies in being strong at everything, without becoming VERY STRONG at things without work: two in-activation Vader attacks cap around 10p3 each (12p3 with Deathblow on one); add Parting Blow, Force Surge, Dark Energy, and a Force Choke to that activation, and you can conceivably deal something like 22p6 damage, 5 unmitigated damage, and 2 strain. Spectre Cell can't do that, even with SiN and a SC tap. 2) Is the list "too powerful?" We've got to define the term "too" to answer this question. The list is clearly "powerful." I'd offer that "too" powerful would mean that it can't be defeated by other meta lists, played at a similarly competitive level. It may be "more" powerful than other meta lists. It may even relegate them to A-tier rather than S-tier. But I'm not sure that makes it "too" powerful. 2a. Spectre is winning a lot of Regional events -- something like 13 of them so far. Some of these are more complicated stories when you interrogate them (e.g., it's not surprising that a SC list won a tourney with 6/8 players running SC, or the Omaha final was decided 44-39 by a Sabine high-roll vs a Han blank white die). 2b. Spectre Cell players are experiencing both wins and losses at Regional events. This isn't just people who casually pick the list up: people who have played it since Store Champs are losing games, and they're losing games to everything from Scum VP manipulation to Han Rangers to Scum Hunters to 6- and 7-act Vader builds. It isn't uncommon for SC players to have a 3-1 or 2-2 record going into the cut. Luck can play a factor: a Sabine or Ezra dodge is huge ... but so is a Han dodge, or a Hondo dodge. In larger regionals with broader metas, such as Kansas and Utah, Spectre Cell hasn't been represented in the finals, despite being run by players who have previously won tournaments in at least one of those events. Essentially, you can beat Spectre Cell if you have a plan to beat Spectre Cell ... which seems true of every meta list. 2c. Spectre Cell has a complicated relationship with objectives and points. The can control an area of a map by bunching at it, and punish anything but a really powerful effort to dislodge them. But they're weaker against high-activation counts on maps like Rogue AI or Mos Eisley Concealed Treasures. Lothal will have an impact on their range, forcing them to either split or advance across a map, allowing for more on-approach risk. A scum VP list can race them to 40 or to time. A defensive box can work towards selective exchanges. A Vader/Thrawn/spy list can hunt for a few key cards and hold back Vader for a decisive moment (and SC has trouble playing around Dying Lunge). SC doesn't currently have an "auto-win" map; they're strong on all, but not broken anywhere like Ugnaughts on Raining Freight. Are they "too powerful?" In chess, computers win about 5% more often with the white pieces than the black pieces. It's an advantage, but not an insuperable one, and players work a variety of strategies to equalize that advantage. Spectre Cell feels the same way: you know what it is and what it's strengths are coming in, so it's a part of what we're playing against. 3) Should the list be nerfed? 3a: What has its impact been? The only unit that it really seems to have left behind is the eJet troopers. I think I've seen lists beating SC with every other serious unit from last year's meta (including eQuays, though you have to be even more careful with them now). Losing one unit's efficiency as we advance a whole box and add a new point to the previous triangle of prospective matchups (possibly two, depending on how uniquely we think Scum VP plays vs Scum hunters) seems like an appropriate development of the game. We still see Han, eRangers, Drok, RCP, R2, smugglers, and the occasional Chewie and Jyn (and MHD in Utah). We still see IG, Jabba, Greedo, Onar, eQuays, and eJawas, though plenty of people are happily adding Hondo as well. We still see Vader, Palp, eRiots, rOfficers, and the occasional AT-DP, with plenty of use for the new units when Empire is run. 3b: Nerfing is a pretty serious step, and tough to reverse. SC can already be beaten by a Merc list running only cards and deployments from Jabba's Realm and the Droid Wave, two boxes back. Empire lists are finding ways to replace 2xeJets with Thrawn, Death Troopers, and powerful new upgrades. Rebels can beat SC with Han/Rangers, a JR list with HOTE Han fix. Is SC slightly stronger than those lists? Sure, though they each have ways in which they're stronger than SC. But nerfing SC now to be at or below the previous meta seems unnecessary, especially if the game is going to advance: a nerf now may mean SC isn't equipped to deal with whatever comes next. 4) The "Can be beaten" vs "Too powerful" question So, "Can be beaten" isn't a full argument that something isn't "too powerful." If it takes perfect performance and more than a usual share of luck to win, the case is probably made for "too powerful." 4a. People say you have to play perfectly AGAINST SC, but they don't talk as much about the need for perfect play AS Spectre Cell. The list is tanky, sure. But leaving Kanan or Zeb where they can be shot is a good way to lose a figure to focus fire before it can activate again. SC has to make an approach that adds enough pressure for round two without giving away damage because of the melee-distance attacks from Kanan/Ezra/Zeb or Grenade-distance-relevance for Sabine. Keeping four figures all safe is hard to the point of impossible. Splitting them up often allows opponents to capitalize on a weak point in the position. So I don't think it takes "perfect" performance to beat Spectre Cell ... I DO think it takes "EQUAL" performance, and possibly "BETTER" performance. But that's a lot of competitive gaming: the situation naturally benefits one side or the other, so you need to maximize your capacities, minimize theirs, and capitalize on errors. The space may be tighter against Spectre Cell, but I don't think the equation is fundamentally different. 4b. Does it take more than usual luck to beat it? SC has ways of mitigating bad luck: innate damage/block helps every roll ... though the early critique of the spoiled figures before the SC upgrade was that they weren't up to the power curve (without it), so perhaps they're on the front edge of the curve, rather than behind it. Ezra can get an offensive re-roll or a dangerous set die ... but that takes telegraphing and specific activation timing -- they can accelerate it once or twice per game with the right position and command cards, but that's similar to what other lists can already accomplish with Blaze, CtV, SoS, New Orders, or a Palp or Jabba ordered attack. Figures can get a defensive re-roll by Kanan, but that requires staying in a bunched position that may not threaten enough of the board and is around one of your slowest moving, easiest to remove figures. And the high health pools are somewhat forgiving, but they are finite and we've spent two years in a meta full of tools for taking out large amounts of health quickly. Plus, each removed Spectre drops their capacities significantly, from activations to SC tap options to figures taking advantage of synergies. A dodge feels especially strong on SC, but many lists have means of removing dice or dodges, and there are some old tools (Deadly Precision, Lock-On, Ko-Tun's token effect) that have been under-utilized against dodges and may be worth their costs now. 5) The "Is it bad for the game?" Question 5a. The case has been made that SC is a forgiving, low-cost way for new players to enter. We've heard stories of skilled people who have played other competitive games picking up a buddy's SC list and getting a few wins in a tournament, despite being novices in IA nuance. 5b. Others report that people get bored playing against SC over and over and leave to go play other games. That said, I've heard that about hunter lists, Vader lists, and Han lists in the past year, so I'm not sure that should count against SC specifically. 5c. I think claims that SC is breaking the game need to be put in context: We've had a slow release schedule and rough communication and OP support. If those other factors were there, I don't think SC would be named as the problem child for IA as often; people wouldn't mind it having its moment on the top of the heap if we felt like more content that would help us redraw the lines of power and influence were coming up soon. Concluding Thoughts? I think SC's issues are similar to issues in the past. They aren't as dominant or as bad for OP as 4x4 or Ugnaughts seem to have been; they seem to be a standard the way Hunters have been for several years, and I think the player community should appreciate that at least there's a new bar, even if it's a more challenging one. SC is having a day in the sun the way Unshakeable Vader did last year, even if it seems longer and brighter. Some of the SC anxiety feels like transferred concern about other issues with the game's development (release schedule). At the end of the day, I don't mind that it's in the game. And I might bring it to Worlds if people keep asking me to be their practice partner on Vassal to test their lists against it ...
  7. The Zion’s Finest Vassal tournament was an incredible way to do this. The fixes show up easily there and it got us a large player base without people having to drive or fly to a distant event. I’d strongly encourage that direction again. Maybe name the Vassal mods something different, like “Fan-Made IA?”
  8. Otherwise, thanks, @brettpkelly for streaming it! I started watching your streamed games in like January this year, wanting to improve my play, so it feels great to be able to play on one of them, even though watching it post-game makes me cringe at a few small mistakes!
  9. As the "Benedict Jules" in question, I want to just sheepishly explain the Primary Target thing that caused the long pause in round 2. DT and I both agreed that the skirmish upgrades counted as attachments in this format (and that therefore DT would have been able to play Primary Target on Luke during Boba Fett's activation to get a focus and damage onto his second or third shots). The issue was that he asked about it after the fact, during my Leia's activation, and he wanted to know if he could go back and add the damage back in for the kill on Luke. It was sort of a weird call for me, since these upgrades were just applied directly to the cards to reduce clutter by the people who set up the Vassal tournament, but it was also a missed opportunity, and if DT had played it on the second attack, the card would have been burned on Luke's dodge with no change in the result. If he had played it on the third attack, it would have killed Luke. Since we were trying to do it by hindsight and this was a semi-formal championship for our Vassal tournament, I called it a missed opportunity. DT was a good sport about it, and had sort of been hesitant to even bring it up, partly because it also meant revealing hand-knowledge. But I also get that he probably would have been tracking it better if these upgrades were real cards and Luke's card had shown the 10 cost more clearly, instead of as a secondary reminder on the fix-card, so it probably isn't a mistake he would have made in a physical game. Otherwise, it was one of those games where you live or die by some dice and draw variance, and I had definitely had at least two key defensive rolls (the dodge on Luke and a tri-force on Hera that kept her out of Assassinate range). There were probably some other things I could have done more precisely -- Gideon positioning away from Onar's potential rush range, moving Leia up for that last shot, etc. -- but it felt good to play a game like that down to the wire.
  10. I'd agree -- round one is dead ... but it's dead for 95% of figures. Having the chance to "re-deploy" closer to the action actually helps melee figures a lot. Most of them can get fairly close to a terminal door, at least, and with a movement card or brawler trick after that, they can probably start swinging as early as the rest of figures, which can help them a fair amount.
  11. So, I keep looking over the 4-player maps and the printing instructions, and I just re-read this thread carefully. Can someone tell me more specifically how to get those printed at printi.com? Also, my LGS crew ran the 4-player HOTE map last night on the team mission side and had a blast. It probably favors rebels a bit -- early round mobility is worth a lot of points!
  12. Thanks, Kenny! The feedback was definitely due to my kittens trying to eat the headphone cord, especially during the reporting on the game with Brandon. I will definitely banish cats from the room on any future recording! Though I know that cat-ownership is still "a reason passing your comprehension." It's fun to report in; I always forget a dozen things I wanted to flag (strat shift in a number of games, the way DT used Opportunistic to pull an EQuay around a wall before I could get a clear shot on it, the Vassal game log I kept leading up to Worlds), but mostly I think I just want to thank everyone at Worlds -- the players, the organizers and staff, all of it. Everyone I met seemed genuinely happy to include me in conversations and meals and side games, and the whole event had a great feel to it from start to finish. The other big mention is how little rankings seem to matter -- I've played a lot of guys who didn't finish top 32 who are more experienced and have a firmer handle on the game than I do. I got lucky on a lot of my match-ups (mirror match on the first mission where an objective-stronger list like Vader would've given me tons of trouble; good match-up round two, playing against an opponent who hadn't had time to train the new map, never seeing Vader, etc). You've always still got to capitalize, but I had a pretty lucky string. The whole experience rekindled my desire to build up the tournament scene around me in Omaha, and I'm excited to plan for Worlds next year!
  13. My guess is we see a lot more of Davith after Tyrants makes Rebel Force Users a more reasonable archetype. I'd rather spend 6 on Davith than 3 on Mak as a spy, if I have other card support that synergizes with my figures!
  14. You were definitely too modest about our game -- you had the worst luck of any game I saw at worlds, on either side of any map: - I sniped R2 and he didn't dodge - Luke rolled single evades 3 times in a row, including once against 8 natural dmg and no surges from Han. - Black Market revealed Son of Skywalker when you had 2 points from killing a smuggler and couldn't buy it - 3P0 rolled perfectly to live through a Luke attack with 1 hp Jake's IG did a ton of good work later, but like he said, it was a rough map where he basically had to walk towards me slowly, and Han and Rangers basically got to pick their targets through rounds 1 and 2. Jake was a great sport about some pretty rough luck on what was a rough matchup to begin with.
  15. I saw him at an Omaha regionals, but it was in a 1-2 game in round 4. Davith's interesting. If you're going to put 3 points into Mak as a non-actor for the first 2-3 rounds, Davith offers some alternatives. His free damage pings are a mini over-run, except that he doesn't have mobile (his special attack action is MOVE 2, not GAIN 2 mps, so that one is free). Force leap helps there -- you gain mobile during movement. And the auto-hide at the beginning makes deflection run-able, though if you want a spy that can send damage back for a 1-point command card, why not Ahsoka at 8 points with Right Back at Ya? Davith's pierce is nice, but he's not getting a ton of damage output to begin with. Maybe paired with Ko-Tun and a focus? But that's a lot of investment to get a 10 hp white die figure to do decent damage once. I dunno. At this point I think anything Davith does, Jarrod does better, but we're all looking to Tyrants for rebel force user upgrades, so who knows?
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