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Bar Hopping, or the minute differences in your available actions. A Novel by Dracon

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It is known that the action economy is a vital part of the game, to the point of being a huge feature in list-building.

However, I thought I'd share my semi-coherent ramblings of far-too in-depth analyses of them, to you.

 

Focus

The only action available on every ship in the game, its also one of the most versatile.

We should know its stats by this point (spend to increase your damage by .25 per Red die, or spend to mitigate .25 damage per Green die).
However, there are some subtler aspects to the humble Focus that most don't think about. 

Firstly, Focus tokens are better on lower pilot-skilled ships than they are on higher pilot-skilled ships, as it's typically better to spend it defensively than offensively.

  1. Defensive Focus has more opportunities to be used, as you can be attacked from multiple ships in a round.
  2. Defensive Focus has a more immediate use, as you're directly mitigating damage, rather than gaining results that cause damage if not mitigated
  3. Defensive Focus keeps you alive longer, to deal more damage another day. He who lives and runs away...
  4. For a low PS ship, if you wind up not needing to use the Focus for defense, you can spend it on offense as a bonus. For a high PS ship, you must forego this ability to use it defensively, or forego the defensive options to use it offensively; a much more difficult choice.

Secondly, Focus Tokens are a single-use item, but can be used to generate multiple results. That means that there is a point where spending a Focus token to dodge one damage is wasting potential. 

For Biggs facing off against a TIE Swarm at Range 2, if you have more than 5 TIEs who have not yet attacked you, and are currently in a position to spend your Focus Token to prevent 1 damage, you are likelier to find a spot to prevent 2 damage against a later TIE than to not have the ability to dodge 1 damage. At 5 or fewer remaining TIEs, or if you fear your destruction, you should spend it for 1 prevented damage.

 

Thirdly, Focus tokens improve your ship irrespective of what your opponent does with theirs, save only for abilities that clear the token away, or when you are neither fired upon or can fire... which is a safe position to be for the turn being. 

 

Target Lock

The TL is outshone in versatility by the Focus Token, as the former only buffs an attack against a declared opposing ship, and cannot be used defensively on its own.

However, the TL deals slightly more damage than the Focus, and does not fade until spent or the target is killed, regaining some of its purpose.

 

The TL can produce [KABLAM] results while the Focus merely produces ]Boom]s. The odds of damage against shields is identical for the two, but maintaining the 1:3 ratio may be well worth it against certain ships.

Remember that the 1/4 of your damage from naked or re-rolled dice being [KABLAM] increases the suffered Criticals as an opponent's agility increases, as [boom]s are canceled first. Against ships with shields, or with low agility, odds of dealing criticals decreases drastically. Think of "Critical Vulnerability" as a non-standard statistic of the defending ship, rather than as an inherent improvement of the attacker's build, and you'll be more successful on that front.

 

The un-fading Target Lock is greatly advantageous in our current metagame.

It allows you the promise of damage against a single opposing ship, one that is mobile enough that you do not expect to attack it this round. 
If you are good at tracking the flow of combat, you will eventually get your sights on that sucker, at which point they're in trouble.
So, yes. Vs a Pic and Gorc fleet, TL the one that's hard to hit (Pic), and do it early, and you have a good shot at the game.
 

In every other scenario, however, the TL is overshadowed by the Focus for damage, and by the Boost/Barrel-Roll for meaningful actions when an opponent is unattackable.

 

Notably, the TL + Focus combination is the only combo of regular actions with diminishing returns.

 

As Boost/Barrel-Roll are available on every ship without a Target Lock, the Targeting Computer is not usually worth its 2 points. 

 

Evade

A token that can be spent to mitigate 1 incoming damage is theoretically superior to a defensive Focus when you have fewer than 4 agility, or need the guarantee. Independence from dice is what makes this terrifying, though. 

 

You can think of this as "Assign a Shield Token to your ship. If, at the end of the round, you were not hit by an attack, remove one shield token from your ship".
Except against non-attack damage.

 

However, the sheer versatility of the Focus token may outweigh the Evade, particularly as you approach the 4-die conversion.

 

Boost

The first of our repositional actions, Boost is very difficult to extol properly.

  1. If you have the ability to fire outside of your primary arc, Boost becomes useful as an arc-dodging mechanic while still maintaining your damage. It still does not do this as well as Barrel-Roll from a ship at a 90* angle, as your dodge starts from a very specific node on your ship, and only travels in one direction, vs anywhere from either side, but being able to use the 1 Bank template helps mitigate this.
  2. The length of range is equivalent to a theoretical 2.5 maneuver template. Boosting forward is the equivalent of adding a 2.0 maneuver template to the extreme of each of your ranges on a small-based ship, allowing Range 4 shots. On a Large-based ship, its the equivalent of a 3.0 maneuver template instead, allowing for some Range 5 shots.
  3. Boost allows for a change in the direction of your firing arc, giving you an extra angle of 45* on the edges of your arc, in addition to the range difference. There is still the lee of your forward momentum, so it is possible for an opponent to be in a position where you cannot boost to gain a shot where a Barrel-Roll would have done the trick.
  4. Boost adds a myriad of options to your actual maneuvering, allowing you to gain substantial advantage during an extended engagement, or improved navigation of obstacles.
  5. Boost can be used to safely check against collisions on the following rounds, as you cannot boost into them.

And, of course, Boost stacks absolutely terrifyingly with Advanced Sensors, or in concert with a Barrel-Roll with PTL. 

 

Interestingly, Boost tends to work better on low PS pilots, as you're sacrificing a lesser ability to arc-dodge for a greater chance not to be blocked. As it adds heaping swaths of attack-area at Range 2+, its typically easy to tell when your boost will be necessary for acquiring a target, or when you're planning multiple turns at a time. 

 

It's truly excellent for a Disengage/Re-engage cycle as well, giving added power to the escape and approach.

 

Notably, its an action that every ship can use, as Engine Upgrades exist.

 

Barrel-Roll

The most potent offensive action is one that allows you to attack when you otherwise could not.
The most potent defensive action is one that completely negates an attack.

The two in concert are known as Arc-Dodging, and is the primary strength of the BR.

 

Boost can approximate this, but is best at long-range engagements. The BR is most potent at close-range, as exemplified with the Matador Turn.

However, it can also add +/- 1 forward momentum to any maneuver, as well as its lateral motion of 2. On Turns, that results in a 3 Turn becoming a 2 and a 4 as well on a small ship, or a 1.5/4.5 on a large. With the momentum alteration as well.

 

As with Boost, it is absolutely monstrous in concert with certain upgrades. It is superb on Blockers, due to the ability to slow yourself, and astonishing on high PS ships, due to arc-dodging.  It's my favorite action in the entire game, including the ones netted from upgrades. 

 

Heck, Expert Handling is one of the best Elite Talents when not fighting a pancake, and it isn't taken to negate the Target Lock.

 

Cloak

The new-kid on the block, and the one most recently nerfed. For good reason.

Simultaneously a defensive action and an insane mobility action, the rules-patch removed its ability to Arc-Dodge.

 

The +2 Agility is going to get you an average of +6/8 damage mitigation. Against a single attack, an Evade is better, but against more than one attack this is expected to dodge more damage.


Moreover, when you remove your Cloak Token, you may perform a 2 forward maneuver (that doesn't interact with anything else like a maneuver), or a barrel-roll with a 2 template.

This now occurs in the Activation Phase, between when Intelligence Agent and PS 0 pilots activate, so you can't Arc-Dodge with this anymore. 
Even with attacking every other turn, that was over-powered, much less with the Advanced Cloaking Device modification.

 

Now, however, you can use the decloak to block without revealing your final position, in addition to the already insane mobility it gives you.

 

So, as far as mobility upgrades are concerned, it's better than Boost for the board-presence side, inferior to both for Arc-Dodging, and prevents your attack.
Except with Advanced Cloak, which makes it bleeding incredible.

 

Notably, Cloak actively stacks with Focus synergistically, rather than the antisynergy of Focus + TL. 

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The un-fading Target Lock is greatly advantageous in our current metagame.

It allows you the promise of damage against a single opposing ship, one that is mobile enough that you do not expect to attack it this round. 

If you are good at tracking the flow of combat, you will eventually get your sights on that sucker, at which point they're in trouble.

So, yes. Vs a Pic and Gorc fleet, TL the one that's hard to hit (Pic), and do it early, and you have a good shot at the game.

In this passage on the target lock, I think you're pointing out how beneficial it is that the target lock does not disappear at the end of the round. However, I think this point could be made more explicit.

 

Overall, great read! Thanks for posting!

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So I don't know offhand that this math is right, but I'll go with it for now. However, this paragraph, while clear to the careful reader, is a bit hard to follow at a glance.

"For Biggs facing off against a TIE Swarm at Range 2, if you have more than 5 TIEs who have not yet attacked you, and are currently in a position to spend your Focus Token to prevent 1 damage, you are likelier to find a spot to prevent 2 damage against a later TIE than to not have the ability to dodge 1 damage. At 5 or fewer remaining TIEs, or if you fear your destruction, you should spend it for 1 prevented damage."

You are trying to say that, when there are greater than 5 attacks left, Biggs is more likely to get 2 focus results when a TIE gets 2 hits than he is to not need his focus at all during those same attacks, correct? So Biggs should save his focus hoping for this result rather than using it right now to mitigate one damage. I'm curious if there is not an error here as you need to look at the odds 2 focus vs 2 hit happens BEFORE the next opportunity to use a focus comes up and not at any time in the next 6+ attacks. If he needs a focus to mitigate 1 damage 2 attacks down the road, you don't get to count the probability that he will get a 2focus vs 2 hit result for attacks 3, 4, 5, etc in your probability.

It's interesting, but really edge case. It only applies when you have put Biggs in front of at least 7 TIEs (1 shooting, 6 are waiting to shoot).

Anyways, not being a negative nelly, it's a good post and I'm just curious about this one bit.

Edited by GiraffeandZebra

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So I don't know offhand that this math is right, but I'll go with it for now. However, this paragraph, while clear to the careful reader, is a bit hard to follow at a glance.

"For Biggs facing off against a TIE Swarm at Range 2, if you have more than 5 TIEs who have not yet attacked you, and are currently in a position to spend your Focus Token to prevent 1 damage, you are likelier to find a spot to prevent 2 damage against a later TIE than to not have the ability to dodge 1 damage. At 5 or fewer remaining TIEs, or if you fear your destruction, you should spend it for 1 prevented damage."

You are trying to say that, when there are greater than 5 attacks left, Biggs is more likely to get 2 focus results when a TIE gets 2 hits than he is to not need his focus at all during those same attacks, correct? So Biggs should save his focus hoping for this result rather than using it right now to mitigate one damage. I'm curious if there is not an error here as you need to look at the odds 2 focus vs 2 hit happens BEFORE the next opportunity to use a focus comes up and not at any time in the next 6+ attacks. If he needs a focus to mitigate 1 damage 2 attacks down the road, you don't get to count the probability that he will get a 2focus vs 2 hit result for attacks 3, 4, 5, etc in your probability.

It's interesting, but really edge case. It only applies when you have put Biggs in front of at least 7 TIEs (1 shooting, 6 are waiting to shoot).

Anyways, not being a negative nelly, it's a good post and I'm just curious about this one bit.

From another thread of mine, a few months ago. If the 6th is attacking, and there are 5 that have not, is the turning point.

I am trying to get a full pathing algorithm for when-to-use-single-use-effects, but that requires a LOT of work.

Like, a ton.

But afterwards, i'd be able to build a fleet that uses them more effectively than anyone else, save for folks with loaded dice.

I'm a bit of a madman, y'see.

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Secondly, Focus Tokens are a single-use item, but can be used to generate multiple results. That means that there is a point where spending a Focus token to dodge one damage is wasting potential.

This is why I think R5-P9 is a strong Droid. He's considered a weaker R2-D2, but if you do roll 1 focus, you can take the hit and regenerate the shield in the end phase. It's damage neutral barring the specifics of the attack like if it's a critical hit.

This leaves the focus available for when you roll 2 focus results and get a bigger return on the token.

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Secondly, Focus Tokens are a single-use item, but can be used to generate multiple results. That means that there is a point where spending a Focus token to dodge one damage is wasting potential.

This is why I think R5-P9 is a strong Droid. He's considered a weaker R2-D2, but if you do roll 1 focus, you can take the hit and regenerate the shield in the end phase. It's damage neutral barring the specifics of the attack like if it's a critical hit.

This leaves the focus available for when you roll 2 focus results and get a bigger return on the token.

 

Also, R5-P9 lets you regenerate irrespective of your maneuver color, so long as you get a focus token at some point.

Regeneration's a lot more effective when you can get out of the field of fire

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Good, but I have some nitpick issues with your analysis of TL. 

 

Focus does not overshadow TL for damage, they are the same, the reason focus is better is because it can be used on defense as well as offense, giving it higher utility. You mentioned that barrel roll/boost is better if you are getting attacked but not attacking (a dubious statement, as a focus is probably better) but you didn't mention the situations when your ship isn't getting attacked. If your ship is not going to get shot that turn, TL is better than focus because of the potential for better action economy if you don't need the TL that turn, allowing you to save it for a later turn, whereas a focus would be wasted if you don't roll any eyeballs for your attack, or if your ship doesn't attack that turn.

 

Pic and Gorc fleet is not something I've ever heard before, I had to google it to find out they're twins, and I'm guessing you're using it to describe a 2-ship list, but that kind of jargon creates a barrier to entry for readers. I also don't understand the use of [kablam] and [boom] if this is for newer players when [hit] and [crit] are much clearer.   

 

Might be good fodder for a sequel, but you missed Expose, Marskmanship, R2-F2, R5-D8, Proximity Mine, Daredevil, R7-T1, and Lando Calrissian. 

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Secondly, Focus Tokens are a single-use item, but can be used to generate multiple results. That means that there is a point where spending a Focus token to dodge one damage is wasting potential. 

For Biggs facing off against a TIE Swarm at Range 2, if you have more than 5 TIEs who have not yet attacked you, and are currently in a position to spend your Focus Token to prevent 1 damage, you are likelier to find a spot to prevent 2 damage against a later TIE than to not have the ability to dodge 1 damage. At 5 or fewer remaining TIEs, or if you fear your destruction, you should spend it for 1 prevented damage.

 

Oh I totally missed this, this is definitely a bad idea. Your Biggs is more likely to die because you chose not to mitigate one damage with your focus than he is to prevent two damage. That's because there's only a 3.5% chance that a TIE with a focus will roll 2 hits on the same attack that you roll 2 eyeballs with your 2 defense ship. In the 6.25% of defense rolls where BIggs does roll 2 eyeballs, it will most likely be against 0 or 1 hit from the TIE, meaning it will still only mitigate 1 damage. 

 

The more likely scenario is that after you choose not to spend the focus to prevent 1 damage on the first X attacks, you don't roll any eyeballs against the remaining attacks and lose your chance to spend your focus and Biggs dies where he might have lived with 1 hull remaining had you not been so greedy. 

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Nice write up for new payers.  

I tried to go into enough depth for some of the experienced players to get some pleasure from it too :)

 

Didn't mean it as degrading the post.  Just meant what I said: that it would be a nice thing to read if someone is learning the game.  I did enjoy reading it.

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*Snip*

As far as a damage-based action is concerned, Focus vs Target Lock is decidedly in Focus' favor. It can be spent attacking more targets, and can be used defensively. And, as you point out, deals identical damage against shields. Versatility is what makes it outshine.

Now, if you do not have an attack, Barrel-Roll and Boost are better than a Target-Lock because they may put you in a position to HAVE an attack, which is a substantial damage upgrade.

 

 

But, as you say, if you are not being attacked, and cannot attack, and cannot use a barrel-roll or a boost to gain positional advantage, then Target Lock is the best choice. 

But only then.

 

 

 

A Pic and Gorc describes a more specific metagame than just two-ships. Gorc is a giant beefcake who deals massive amounts of damage entirely around him. Pic is annoying, tiny, and too fast to hit.

As the two are the most frustrating boss-fight in the first Star Wars game that let you wield a Lightsaber, and the second game to use Kyle Katarn and Jan Ors, its not that obscure a reference.

 

Basically, a high-agility Flanker (Soontir Fel, Whisper, Corran Horn) with a high HP Pancake (Decimator, SuperDash, Fat Han). This is different from, say, Double Falcon, Duel Aggressor, IG+Firespray, et c...

 

 

 

As for the actions granted by upgrades.... yeah that's a sequel. I need the baseline of regular actions for comparisons established first.

 

 

*Snip*

You describe a scenario in which Biggs dies to only a single point of damage, as otherwise spending the focus would have still netted your death. 

I did design for a Biggs with infinite health, but it is still likelier that he survives for at least one more attack using the algorithm I posted. 

If you wish to deviate from the algorithm when he is closer to death, that is your prerogative. If he's down to 1 health, I'll gladly spend the focus to dodge 1 damage.

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Regarding Pic and Gorc: I certainly didn't get the reference but it was at least possible to follow the conversation, since the fat turret and escort is a common enough build. And Mr. Katarn (to me anyway) was that guy from that Doom variant. I guess they had a sequel I never played, but certainly that wasn't the first game featuring a lightsaber. I seem to recall Atari 2600, NES and SNES games that featured characters swinging some laser swords around. Unless you meant PC games or 3D games.

Anyway, good assessment of the basic actions and their value. Seems there are very few times to use TL, other than with specific pilot abilities.

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A Pic and Gorc describes a more specific metagame than just two-ships. Gorc is a giant beefcake who deals massive amounts of damage entirely around him. Pic is annoying, tiny, and too fast to hit.

As the two are the most frustrating boss-fight in the first Star Wars game that let you wield a Lightsaber, and the second game to use Kyle Katarn and Jan Ors, its not that obscure a reference.

 

Funny, I don't remember any of those characters from Super Star Wars... :P

Then again, you may be referring to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars:_Jedi_Arena which I've never actually played. :rolleyes:

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A Pic and Gorc describes a more specific metagame than just two-ships. Gorc is a giant beefcake who deals massive amounts of damage entirely around him. Pic is annoying, tiny, and too fast to hit.

As the two are the most frustrating boss-fight in the first Star Wars game that let you wield a Lightsaber, and the second game to use Kyle Katarn and Jan Ors, its not that obscure a reference.

 

Funny, I don't remember any of those characters from Super Star Wars... :P

Then again, you may be referring to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars:_Jedi_Arena which I've never actually played. :rolleyes:

Dark Forces 2, for PC.

I should have said FIRST-PERSON game that lets you use a lightsaber, lol

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So would you put Expert Handling on Antilles?

Lord yes.

Wedge's ability is already an offensive buff, so you want him shooting as often as possible, and avoiding getting shot as often as well.

As a PS 9, he's an amazing arc-dodger to boot.

 

Pair with either an R2 Astromech or R2-D2

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In every other scenario, however, the TL is overshadowed by the Focus for damage, and by the Boost/Barrel-Roll for meaningful actions when an opponent is unattackable.

 

 

Your words were implying that Focus deals more damage than TL. Using the word damage to describe Focus's defensive value is probably what's confusing me. And your evaluation of Barrel Roll/Boost doesn't explain when and why moving your ship around is better than having a stronger attack next turn, it just makes a blanket statement that moving your ship around is better than taking a TL for the next turn.

 

But, as you say, if you are not being attacked, and cannot attack, and cannot use a barrel-roll or a boost to gain positional advantage, then Target Lock is the best choice. 
But only then.

 

 

Like when my crappy ship that's not worth shooting at blocks my opponent's ship. I think that probably happens often enough to be worth mentioning.

 

As the two are the most frustrating boss-fight in the first Star Wars game that let you wield a Lightsaber, and the second game to use Kyle Katarn and Jan Ors, its not that obscure a reference.

 

 

Sorry to break this to you, but an Elite Mook from a 1997 PC game is pretty obscure, and probably would have been just as obscure 17 years ago. The only reason Jan Ors and Kyle Katarn aren't obscure to X-Wing players is because they are in our game. I like the analogy you've made, but expecting us to know what you're talking about without explaining the reference is frustrating. The more common and intuitive slang for the list you're describing is Hammer and Anvil. However the greater point is that introducing jargon to the game without explaining the reference obscures what you're trying to communicate and makes it harder for people to join in the conversation without really making it easier for people to communicate, which is the goal of jargon.

 

 

You describe a scenario in which Biggs dies to only a single point of damage, as otherwise spending the focus would have still netted your death. 

 

 

My scenario shows Biggs living with 1 Hull because the difference between life and death is 1 Hull, meaning a Biggs with 1 Hull is infinitely more useful than a Biggs with 0 Hull but not that much worse than a Biggs with 2 Hull. Both your approach and mine are about a difference of 1 damage, but your approach creates a greater risk of Biggs dying, where the pay off is that he lives with 1 extra HP. That's a huge risk for a small payoff.

 

If he's down to 1 health, I'll gladly spend the focus to dodge 1 damage.

 

 

The problem is that you don't get to decide to start rolling eyeballs when he gets down to 1 health. The eyeball you rolled on the first or second attack might have been the only ones you get, and as I pointed out, the chance of preventing 2 damage with a focus token is very low when Biggs is being attacked by a TIE Fighter, the Risk/Reward is very heavy on the risk with little reward.

 

Biggs doesn't have infinite health, which is why early dice rolls are much more important than later ones, because the later ones might never happen based on the results of the early ones. Your algorithm needs to put more weight on the early dice rolls, otherwise it is not correctly representing the reality of this game that ships with 0 health don't get to roll defense dice. . 

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Yeah, that reference is obscure.  I knew nothing about Jan or Kyle before playing X-Wing, and now I only know they exist as some people in the EU.  Let alone characters one degree separated from Jan/Kyle. 

 

As a side note - I would say most of the common people I know couldn't name Palpatine and think "Han" is actually named "Hans", but that has nothing to do with the anticipated knowledge on an X-Wing forum.

Edited by GiraffeandZebra

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