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The Galaxy's Fate in my Hand: An IA Probability Compendium

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1 minute ago, Rythbryt said:

The pictures should be visible now. If not, I think it strengthens my theory that we've inadvertently stumbled on something earth-shattering and a higher power is trying to stifle us.

Yes, I can see them.  They look great! :) 

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The Galaxy's Fate in my Hands
 
Part the Fifteenth: "Shock and Awwwwwww," or why you'd totally want the Electrostaff while trekking with Artoo through the Bukuvu (complete with videos... tons of videos!!!)
 
Our journey through IA's Tier III melee weapons continues with a weapon of unparalleled prequel-ness: the IG-100 MagnaGuard's Electrostaff!
 
electros_card.png
Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]
 
Now before you throw up your hands in disgust, bear with me here: there were elements of the prequels that were actually pretty good. There was John Williams' stirring score, an eight-minute lightsaber battle for the ages (and, depending on your tastes, its incandescent banter), Yoda doing cool Yoda things, President Matt Santos (early-2000s cable network cross-over alert!), and now a Tier III IA weapon that should fill you with Awe!
 
(And no, not that kind of "awe"...)
 
Spoilers below:
  • The Bukuvu is in the heart of Africa
  • There are elephants (of a sort) there
  • Monkeys talk... some apes, too...
  • The natives only speak Swahili
  • Turn back now! Turn back now! TURN BACK NOW!!!
Okay... don't say I didn't warn you... :P
 
Initial Impressions
 
First, there's an important caveat: this weapon isn't available in any boxed expansion. To add it to your campaign, you need to purchase the Grand Inquisitor Villain Pack.
 
GI_pack.png
Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]
 
Not that you wouldn't want that expansion anyway: the GI is a very lethal early-campaign villain at a relatively low threat cost of 9 (though his agenda set isn't anything to write home about), he comes with two pretty good force user command cards for skirmish play, and the model is excellent (as always). But if you were on the fence, needed a push, and play IA campaigns (especially as a Rebel player), then the Electrostaff should push you over the edge.
 
In fact, fall over it. Head-first.
 
GI_pack_contents.png
Look at all that beautiful plastic... well, some plastic... but it is beautiful... and look at all the accompanying goodies!
[Photo credit: FFG]
 
Then there are the pros of the weapon itself (and there are a ton of really strong pros). We have three attack dice (that's great). And one is a Red (even better). And there's a Green, too (marvelous). And an ability to surge for +2D (both rare and sweet). And a mod slot, for customization (definitely want that). And to top it all off, we get not just one "free" ability that doesn't cost us, but our choice of two excellent "free" abilities: Reach on a melee weapon, or a powerful Cleave 2 (squeeee!!!). And we get to choose from these whenever we declare an attack, each time we attack, with no exhaust penalty (double- triple- and quadruple-squeeeee!!!). Plus, when your hero isn't fighting, it doubles as a walking stick so this doesn't happen to you. Needless to say, this is all excellent. 
 
(Perhaps less needlessly said, that will be the last George reference... maybe).
 
Then there's the... less-excellent? Our third die is a blue, which doesn't look like a particularly strong choice given that the Blue die's greatest contribution is accuracy, and we rarely care about accuracy on a melee weapon. It's also a low-surge die, and when combined with a Red die, looks like it will drop our surge chance down quite a bit (and make us pretty reliant on the Green, which itself only has a 50% chance of rolling a surge). Further complicating things, while this looks like a low-surge weapon, we do have a chance of rolling surges on two dice, and maybe even three, but only one surge ability available for us to spend. Unless we plan to Recover, add a surge-centric mod, or have a melee hero who has other surge abilities in his or her xp deck, there's a potential to "waste" surges here.
 
And then, lurking in the background, is the credits-cost: 1250 with no upgrades. This ain't no Gaffi Stick, in any sense.
 
The maths for a naked Electrostaff bear out these initial impressions. What we have here is a pretty good damage platform that manages to push a single-surge past defense dice slightly more than 50% of the time, right in that sweet spot where it's just likely enough to expect but not likely enough to count on:
 
D_and_S_rolled_chart.png
 
As an added bonus, we also get a ton of accuracy... which we'll basically always waste on anything but a niche melee hero:
 
A_D_S_rolled_chart.png
 
So all things being equal, while there's a lot to like about this weapon, we'd probably prefer any other die to the Blue one we got. A Red-Red-Green looks like it'd be absolutely devastating. A Red-Green-Green is Rancor dice. A Red-Yellow-Green (Grand Inquisitor, Royal Guard Champion) opens up a ton of surge possibilities. But the Blue... for 1250 credits... ehhhh?
 
Right?
 
Well...
 
Dice Debate: RGB v. RRG v. RGG v. RYG
 
So first things first: if we don't like our Electrostaff's dice pool, we can do something about that thanks to the power of Jabba! (Or more accurately, his realm):
 
electros_card.png     +     Ehilt_card.png   =  (...)
[Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]
 
I riffed on this upgrade when it first came out, mostly for the flexibility it opened up. And it does make melee weapons much more flexible. But as we've seen in every write-up, we've yet to find a situation where the Energized Hilt actually improves our weapon's surge proc rate beyond what we'd get from the Balanced Hilt, and it only improves our naked weapon damage when we add certain types of dice. It's almost always an improvement when we add a Red, it's almost always abysmal when we add a Yellow, and adding a Green or Blue is pretty meh (at least for melee weapons), especially compared to other mods we could add.
 
And no surprise, that's essentially what we see here.
 
Electros_variant_rolls_no_surge.png
 
No surprise at the top or bottom: Red-Red-Green is a dynamo (70% odds at 4D+, nearly 50% odds at 5D+), and Red-Yellow-Green has less damage and more surge (74.2% chance of rolling 1 surge past defense dice, far closer to an 80% confidence threshold). The surprise--at least on the damage front--is in the middle. The Red-Green-Green outperforms the Red-Green-Blue when it comes to damage, but the difference is only marginally greater than our ~3% margin of error at its largest point: in the 4-5D+ damage bands. Which seems... less than I'd expected.
 
So let's go back to our ubiquitous dice chart and see if we can figure out what's happened:
 
dice.png
[Photo credit: thesmallman and AdrianT on boardgamegeek]
 
So if we're doing a straight comparison of just the Green and Blue dice, two things jump out: the Green dice has more surges and more damage. And this is technically true... but only just. The Green die has one more surge than the Blue die (in that second-slot from the left) and one more damage than the Blue die (in that last slot on the right). Beyond that, the Green die and the Blue die are completely identical (well, except for all that accuracy).
 
Now don't get me wrong: we'd almost always prefer to have more of something than less (even if it's just one more). But when it comes to damage, at least, the Green actually isn't that much of an improvement over a Blue die. The Blue die, like the Green, has a 5-in-6 chance of adding at least 1 natural damage to our attack results whenever we roll it, and there's just one face where rolling the Blue die nets us less natural damage than rolling a Green (that 5A 1D-Blue vs. 3A 2D-Green, both on the far right). Adding one additional damage symbol obviously helps our damage probabilities (pushing us from 7 total damage results to 8 total damage results), but not to the extent that adding a Red die does (improving damage over a Blue by +5, from 7 total damage results to a whopping 12 total damage results). That's why the Red-Green-Blue remains competitive in rolled damage vs. the Red-Green-Green... and falls way behind Red-Red-Green.
 
The inverse is generally true when it comes to surges: surges are rare to begin with, so getting one extra surge goes a lot further than one extra damage. And indeed, that's what happens: the Red-Green-Green is about 8 percentage points better than the Red-Green-Blue at rolling 1+ surges past defense dice, and about 5 percentage points better at rolling 2+ surges. But having said that, the gains we get from upgrading Red-Green-Blue to Red-Green-Green aren't exactly fixing the Electrostaff's surge quandry: a 64% chance of rolling 1+ surges is better than a 56% chance, but it's still not high enough to count on. And increasing our 2+ surge chance from 17% to 23% probably isn't enticing us to spend credits on a mod that adds a second surge ability.
 
Ironically, Red-Yellow-Green looks a lot better in this regard (even knowing what we know about its damage output). While we still may not opt for the High-Impact Guard if our odds of 2+ surges is only around 38%, that's basically double the odds we had on our naked Electrostaff (~17%), which is nothing to sneeze at. And we can start to depend on a result that procs around 75% of the time, which is a big deal on a weapon that can natively surge for +2D. While it's not breaking any records, the Red-Yellow-Green actually acquits itself far better than we're used to when we account for the Electrostaff's +2 damage surge ability:
 
Electros_variant_rolls_surge.png
 
As it turns out, there's basically no difference between any of these dice pools in the 1-3D+ band (translation: they're all punching about 3 damage past defense dice at an exceptional clip). The Red remains excellent and the Green remains very good through 5D+ before they start to taper off (the drop is more dramatic for the Red-Green-Green, as we'd expect). The Red-Green-Green clearly does outperform the Red-Green-Blue pool once we factor in that +2D surge ability. And the Red-Yellow-Green actually becomes competitive with the Red-Green-Blue as well thanks to that ability (with a slightly higher proclivity for burst damage in our top bands).
 
The caveat, of course, is these are how these dice variants compare versus the naked Electrostaff. The Red-Red-Green, Red-Green-Green, and Red-Yellow-Green consume the Electrostaff's only--and therefore, extremely valuable--mod slot, which means that they're topped-out in terms of damage (unless our melee hero has class cards or other abilities to boost them). We get Red-Green-Blue for free. So the question moving forward will be whether the cost of ditching that Blue die for one that we like better is of more value than keeping the Blue and using our credits and mod slot on something else (especially on ranged weapons, where all that extra Accuracy does matter).
 
So let's start with the most obvious boon for swapping the Blue for a Yellow or Green: surge procs.
 
Not its forte (if "forte" is the word I want)...
 
So the heading really says it all: if we want surges out of the Electrostaff, our options are the usual suspects. The Balanced Hilt (once again) leads the pack, adding a yellow die with the Energized Hilt is quite a bit better than our other alternatives, and... that's about it. We get a marginal ~6 percentage point bump from the Red-Green-Green over the Red-Green-Blue (remember, we're not spending our first surge on our +2D, and the margin between Red-Green-Green and Red-Green-Blue when it comes to rolling just 1+ surge isn't a stark one), and that's about it (until we start losing surges with Red-Red-Green, Red-Red-Blue, and the Vibrogenerator).
 
Surge_mods.png
 
Not surprisingly, the Electrostaff doesn't feature prominently in our "top" surge weapons... though the Balanced Hilt variant does place just outside our top-10, thanks in large part to a dice pool that features three dice instead of the more common two.
 
Surge_top_10.png
 
 
It's all about that Cleave, 'bout that Cleave, 'bout that Cleave...
 
(Gee, that would have been a great article title...)
 
No seriously, it is. Aside from the Weighted Head and Shock Emitter variants, that "free" Cleave 2 is all the Keywords an Electrostaff can trigger (barring hero-specific xp abilities, of course). But it triggers that Cleave 2 exceptionally well, with basically no loss in damage output:
 
Cleave_mods.png
 
So first off, because Cleave 2 is "free," we're never spending a surge to trigger it (allowing us to get the benefit of that +2D surge ability every time we roll at least 1 surge past defense dice). Second, because the Electrostaff hits like a truck (more on that in a minute), we're basically guaranteed to get that "free" Cleave 2 off unless (a) the defender rolls a dodge, or (b) we roll that damage floor of Red-1D, Green-1~, Blue-1~ and the defender rolls 3 Blocks on a Black die (there's a 1-in-1296 chance that happens, by the way... and it's happened to me :-P Add a comment if it's happened to you, and we'll commiserate!).
 
The Shock Emitter adds nearly a 60% stun proc, with an 85% chance of dealing 3 or more damage. That totally seems legit, even if we have to exhaust it.
 
And while we lose out on quite a bit of damage with the Weighted Head, we still have nearly 80% odds of dealing 2 or more damage, and better than 50% odds of dealing Cleave 2 + Cleave 1 + Cleave 1 (once per round, one of those Cleave 1's is exhaust-to-use), which basically transforms our hero into a mobile, reusable grenade.
 
Both variants score very well in total keywords procced. The Weighted Head Electrostaff leads all challengers, narrowly edging out the Force Pike + Weighted Head combo we discussed last time (and with better damage). And the damage we get out of the Shock Emitter variant is by far the best we have from a top-tier Keyword weapon:  
 
cleave_top_10.png
 
I mean... just look at that Electrostaff + Shock Emitter damage! It's... almost otherworldly.
 
Speaking of damage...
 
Watch out for that... Electrostaff!!!
 
(Sorry, I couldn't resist. I will try harder next time.)
 
So let's get one unfortunate combo out of the way right away:
 
electros_card.png     Ehaft_card.png
Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]
 
This is the closest to the five-stages of grief that I've ever gotten with an IA weapon. It ran something like this:
Stage 1: "Why would I add Reach to a weapon that can gain Reach for free?"
 
Stage 2: "Well, I guess if I did that, I could Cleave 2 up to 2 spaces away, which is pretty boss."
 
Stage 3: "Hey, wait... if I don't have anything to Cleave into, and I take Reach instead, the Extended Haft gives me Pierce 1, doesn't it? Which means if I take this, I either always have Reach + Cleave 2 or I have Reach + Pierce 1! Bazinga!"
 
Stage 4: Discover this thread on the forums.
 
Stage 5: *...*
I agree with the conclusion of the thread, by the way, but that doesn't lessen my grief. Especially when we run final tabs on the brutal damage efficiency we can milk out of the Electrostaff in that configuration (the lost mod variant is shaded black, as per our custom):
 
damage_mods.png
 
In our extreme disappointment (we have, after all, lost one of just 3 possible weapon+mod combos to proc 4D+ past defense dice 80% of the time, and the only one that doesn't have at least one exhaust-to-trigger component), let's not lose sight of the fact that an Electrostaff with the Extended Haft, even without Pierce 1, is still an extremely brutal weapon. It's got a 74.5% proc rate for 4D+, and an ~91% chance of dealing Cleave 2 to any target within 2 spaces and LOS, all of which is absurdly good. It's just not doing "6D+ past defense dice every third attack" levels of good. :(
 
But don't worry, if we want that level of (previously almost-unheard-of) damage, we still have several excellent choices:

The Shock Emitter has always been near the top of our damage mods, but it's moved solidly past the Vibrogenerator (so far, at least) on three-dice attack pool weapons (or at least three-dice weapons that have the ability to surge for +2D). As has previously been mentioned, it's the first (legal) weapon + mod combo to break the 80% barrier at 4D+ (which is, just to reiterate, is 4 damage dealt past Black or White defense dice). That's an 80% chance to one-shot... [4]

  1. regular Imperial Officers
  2. regular Stormtroopers
  3. regular Tusken Raiders
  4. regular Snowtroopers
  5. regular Wing Guards
  6. regular Ugnaughts
  7. regular Jet Troopers
  8. regular Weequays

An almost 70% chance to one-shot... [5]

  1. regular Probe Droids
  2. elite Imperial Officers
  3. regular E-webs
  4. regular HK-assassin droids
  5. elite Wing Guards
  6. regular Gammoreans
  7. regular Riot Troopers [pending final version]
  8. regular Sentry Droids [pending final version]

An almost 50% chance to one-shot... [6]

  1. regular Heavy Stormtroopers
  2. regular Nexu
  3. regular Trandos
  4. elite Snowtroopers
  5. elite HK-assassin droids
  6. elite Weequays

And a 1-in-5 chance to one-shot... [7]

  1. elite Probe Droids
  2. elite E-Webs
  3. elite Tusken Raiders
  4. General Sorin
  5. elite Ugnaughts
  6. elite Jet Troopers

That's twenty-eight different IP units that you have a fantastic-to-decent-outside-chance of one-shotting before anyone rolls any dice. Plus a ~90% chance at popping some other unfortunate soul with a Cleave 2, and a ~20% chance of Stunning any target who has more than 4-6 health... you know, just for kicks.

Now of course, all this otherworldly-awesomeness is contingent on spending a whopping 1750 credits for a weapon and having that mod ready (not exhausted), but the damage output is unrivaled when all that is firing and even when the Shock Emitter is exhausted, a naked Electrostaff would still be a remarkably deadly weapon (50% proc rate for 5D+) even if it didn't have Cleave 2, making the exhaust-to-use penalty on the Shock Emitter much less of a deal-breaker than it is for other weapons. And if that weren't enough, we also basically eliminate the chance that we'll ever "waste" any surges rolled by our Electrostaff, thanks to the Shock Emitter's oft-overlooked surge ability for Stun.

So yeah... this weapon's pretty good.

Below the Shock Emitter, we have four other weapons pretty well clustered together. Two of them are Energized Hilt mods (Red-Red-Green and Red-Green-Green), and while the Red-Red-Green does better damage wise (particularly at the top of the scale, in the 7-9D+ bands), the Red-Green-Green is still very competitive thanks to its ~25% proc rate for a Recover surge.In between are our polar-opposite Vibrogenerator and Balanced Hilt. The Vibrogenerator does slightly more damage (and, like the Red-Red-Green Energized Hilt, pulls slightly ahead in the 6-8D+ bands), but the Balanced Hilt variant is certainly more flexible (nearly 60% Recover proc rate), albeit at the cost of an exhaust-to-use mod. All four weapons are at or just under 90% for damage through 3D+, 80% for 4D+, 60% for 5D+, and 33% for 6D+ before they start tapering off.

And then there are the rest: the Red-Red-Blue Energized Hilt, the High-Impact Guard, the naked Electrostaff and Extended Haft [Reach] variant, the Weighted Head variant, and the Red-Yellow-Green Energized Hilt. These are still excellent weapons--they deal 3D+ 85% of the time or better, deal 5D+ in the 30-33% range, and still deal Cleave 2 90% of the time--but some certainly seem more optimized than others.

  • The Red-Red-Blue variant is no slouch, but does get fewer surges and damage than what we'd net with the Red-Red-Green or Red-Green-Green, so using our Energized Hilt on Red-Red-Blue will probably be a rare occurrence (unless we're throwing the Electrostaff Diala-style and want to maximize our range for an out-of-nowhere Cleave 2 on some unsuspecting buckethead).
  • The High-Impact Guard improves the damage we'd get from a naked Electrostaff, but only marginally (its percentile gain tops out at just over 5%, in the 7D+ damage band... and doesn't push that result from "unlikely" to "likely"), and for a whopping 500 credits. So unless we have a way to reliably bump up our surges (through an XP card, Hidden, etc.), it looks sub-optimal.
  • The Red-Yellow-Green Energized Hilt gives us a decent surge chance (~40%), but not the chance we'd have with the Balanced Hilt (~60%) if we spent 50 more credits.
  • The Extended Haft (unfortunately) doesn't change our damage odds... although again, having a "free" Reach and Cleave 2 every time you attack is just that much harder for the IP to play around, and at one of the lowest costs available (1550 credits).
  • The Weighted Head likewise doesn't improve our Electrostaff's damage odds, but it does allow us to pair a "free" Cleave 2 with a "free" Cleave 1 to throw around (plus ~20% chance of yet another Cleave 1), and a (veeeeeeery) outside chance of Cleave 9! (2 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 1) in a single round. It won't have Reach for those (which is unfortunate), but still... if that's the consolation prize, it's a terrifying prize to walk away with.
No surprise then that the Electrostaff dominates our top damage-dealing weapons:
 

damage_top_10.png

Credit to the BD-1 for sticking around this far. Of our top 15, only three slots are taken by two-dice weapons (we always suspected the power creep from Tier II to Tier III was real), and two belong to the BD-1. That Vibrogenerator + Shock Emitter variant continues to do work (once per activation), and the BD-1 + Vibrogenerator + Extended Haft remains an excellent source of sustainable damage (although the Electrostaff + Vibrogenerator and Electrostaff + High-Impact Guard have overtaken it for "top" sustainable damage dealer). Pushed out of our top-15 is the Gaffi Stick + Vibrogenerator, which amazingly remains a top-20 choice (#17) even with all that the Electrostaff, Force Pike, and BD-1 have to offer. It's still the cheapest of the group by a huge margin (550 credits), but its time at the top of the charts has clearly passed. :(
 
Coming Full Circle (to Blue Dice)

But enough tears. If you've been following this series waiting for that perfect weapon for your melee hero, you won't find anything better than the Electrostaff among standard melee weapons for standard melee heroes. It's got three high-damage dice, two crazy-good freebies, is surge-efficient, and hits like a truck even before we add a mod to customize it. It's expensive, but clearly a cut above anything else you can get at its price point. If you manage (or managed) to score it in your campaign, you can bask with confidence in the glow of your impending victory. Go on. It's good for the soul
 
(Just make sure your IP has that Grand Inquisitor Villain Pack first, of course... cuz otherwise that laugh would be awkward...)
 
From here-on out (at least until the campaign goodies from Heart of the Empire are spoiled), the only melee weapons we have left are niche weapons that either depend on one of our hero's specific attributes (Might/Strength for the Tier III Ryyk Blades, and Insight for the Tier III Ancient Lightsaber) or are bound to a particular hero in a class deck (Davith's Shrouded Lightsaber) or as a reward for the hero's mission (Diala's Shu-Yen's Lightsaber).
 
Which is why we started this discussion with a candid talk about Blue dice. Because if our hero opts for one of these weapons (Davith's lightsaber excluded), we're almost always going to be dealing with Blue dice on a melee weapon (in some cases, multiple blue dice on a melee weapon), a sub-optimal dice pool (Yellow-Green for a two-dice pool? Yuck...), and in some cases, both (Shu-Yen's). 
 
So remember: we like Blues. Blues are fine. Blues aren't that much worse than Greens (except for surges).
 
(Really.)
 
So who's next? 'Cuz this is where things start to become really subjective...
 
Ryyk_card.png
This could literally be really good... or really, really, reeeeeeeeeeeely terrible...
Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]
 
 
Inevitable post-posting edits: While we're waiting, if you didn't like the videos, here's an apology for you. ;) :P :) And if you loved the videos... here's a bonus parting shot for making it all the way to the end. :D
 
 
 

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1 hour ago, Jedi Sidious said:

Thank You Rythbryt!!  3 Updates in a week, while still maintaining your incredible level of excellence and detail!!  Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!!  

Thanks for reading. :) Makes it all worth it.

Edited by Rythbryt

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On 8/30/2017 at 1:01 PM, Rythbryt said:

let's not lose sight of the fact that an Electrostaff with the Extended Haft, even without Pierce 1, is still an extremely brutal weapon. It's got a 74.5% proc rate for 4D+, and an ~91% chance of dealing Cleave 2 to any target within 2 spaces and LOS, all of which is absurdly good.

This.  The Electrostaff+Extended Haft combo makes it VERY difficult for the Imperial player to avoid taking Cleave damage.  As Rythbryt noted in the article on the BD-1 Vibro-Axe, Reach allows you to change your potential targets from:

On 6/28/2017 at 4:22 PM, Rythbryt said:

BD-1_Reach_Threat_Range_Page_2.jpg

to:

On 6/28/2017 at 4:22 PM, Rythbryt said:

BD-1_Reach_Threat_Range_Page_1.jpg

This has a very meaningful impact on the ability to apply the free unmitigated Cleave damage that you can gain from the Electrostaff.  Cleave 2 is great but if you can't apply the damage, it doesn't give you any benefit.

I think this is my favorite melee weapon setup available.  Combined with heroes who have the ability to perform additional attacks such as Gaarkhan's Brutal Cleave, Diala's Way of The Sarlacc (the Cleave damage can benefit from Reach), Davith's Fell Swoop, Shyla's Swords Dance - the amount of Cleave damage that can be applied gets pretty ridiculous.  The Electrostaff is an amazing weapon.

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Great stuff. The only thing I thought about was the list of enemies you discussed with probabilities to "one shot"

The probabilities are different to those listed by the fact that, once you introduce the enemy type, you KNOW which defence dice they are rolling. 

The logic of combining black and white defence dice no longer holds in this case. My gut feeling would be that, black defence dice are more efficient at keeping Imperial troops on the board in this case. 

Still a really minor point that doesn't take away from the thrust of that sections argument (that the electrostaff is awesome!)

(I usually play the Imperials and buy the game expansions. My son and his friends to play against me. The way he rolls dice I might skip picking up the Inquisitor pack 😁😁)

Edited by Suhawk75

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On 9/2/2017 at 2:11 AM, Suhawk75 said:

Great stuff. The only thing I thought about was the list of enemies you discussed with probabilities to "one shot"

The probabilities are different to those listed by the fact that, once you introduce the enemy type, you KNOW which defence dice they are rolling. 

The logic of combining black and white defence dice no longer holds in this case. My gut feeling would be that, black defence dice are more efficient at keeping Imperial troops on the board in this case. 

Still a really minor point that doesn't take away from the thrust of that sections argument (that the electrostaff is awesome!)

(I usually play the Imperials and buy the game expansions. My son and his friends to play against me. The way he rolls dice I might skip picking up the Inquisitor pack 😁😁)

Gah! You're right. I've been working on an IP/skirmish unit series and got ahead of myself. ;-)

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The Galaxy's Fate in my Hands
 
Part the Sixteenth: "Ryyk Blades, Blyyk Rades...," or why it's dangerous to upset a wookie... if he's already wounded.
 
This week, we'll tackle the Tier III Ryyk Blades (Jabba's Realm, 950 Credits). This weapon is one of two (melee) weapons with a variable dice pool. It consists of up to 3 attack dice, and the values of those dice are set by our hero's current might/strength pool. It sports 1 mod slot (good), a surge ability for Cleave 2, and a special ability that allows it to convert any number of surge results into single-damage results.
 
Ryyk_card.jpg
[Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]
 
Boy, do we have a lot to talk about. But first, preliminaries!
  • Three dice are (still) better than two
  • Reds are still the best, but Yellows and Blues are surprisingly... okay...
  • Onar's starting weapon is... capped...
  • Watch out for Wookies... or anything bearing their image...
 
Getting our (basic) bearings
 
So usually we'd lead off with some basic preliminary thoughts about this weapon: things we like, things we're skeptical of, and major question marks (probably sprinkled with some preliminary educated guesses). And there are some of those we could venture here:
  • Right of the bat, we have a mod slot. This is a great thing.
  • The buy-in cost of the Ryyk Blades is also relatively low. Compared to the Force Pike (1100 credits) and the Electrostaff (1250 credits), a cool 950 credits (equal to the BD-1 + Balanced Hilt or Extended Haft) looks like a pretty good value. A fully-loaded weapon for around 1300 credits is probably in play if we want it.
  • We generally like the Cleave 2, though we'd like it better with Reach (although we could get Reach on this thing for a relatively reasonable 1250 credits).
  • The no-cap trade-surges-for-damage is intriguing. It's not a modicum of surge-efficiency (we're trading a single-surge for a single-damage, after all), but unlike the Electrostaff, we're also never going to be in danger of "wasting" surges with the Ryyk Blades. Even in the highly-unlikely event that we roll a whopping 7 surges on three Yellows and a Green Focus die (which is, as it happens, theoretically possible), we can still spend 1 surge on Cleave 2, 1 surge on Recover, and then 5 more surges for a total of +5D. Not shabby. Not likely, but not shabby at all.
But the elephant in the room is that attack pool: how many dice (and, of slightly less importance, what color are they)? We've seen throughout our series that while we might be able to get 1 die's worth of damage out of two mod slots, a single-mod two-dice weapon just can't keep pace with even naked 3-dice weapons. Spending 950 credits on a two-dice weapon (let alone a one die weapon) is an absurd overpay. And the fewer dice we roll, the fewer surges we have to trigger Cleave or extra damage (plus the odds of rolling more than 1 surge, even on a Yellow-Yellow dice pool, are under 50%).
 
This means that if our hero is thinking about taking the Ryyk Blades for anything other than "fluff" purposes ("I LOOOOOOOOOVE ME SOME RYYK BLADES, EFFICIENCY BE &%*#*@^?{--&!!!!!"), it becomes an incredibly niche weapon:
 
----------------1-die Might----------------
 
G - Vinto
B - Jyn, Loku, MH-D, Murne, Saska
R - Jyn [W], Loku [W], MH-D [W], Murne [W], Saska [W], Vinto [W]
 
----------------2-dice Might----------------
 
GB - Diala, Fenn, Gideon, Mak, Davith, Verena
RB - Diala [W], Fenn [W], Gideon [W], Mak [W], Davith [W], Verena [W]
 
----------------3-dice Might----------------
 
YGB - Gaarkhan, Biv
RGB - Gaarkhan [W], Biv [W]
YYB - Onar
RYB - Onar [W]
GBB - Shyla
RBB - Shyla [W]
GGB - Drokkatta
??? - Drokkatta [W]
 
Even if the Ryyk Blades were free, the one-die pools are probably out (single-Red, -Green, and -Blue pools are all incapable of rolling 2 or more surges, even without defense dice, so the Cleave 2 and non-capped damage surge abilities are basically wasted), and while a Red-Blue or Green-Blue attack pool might excite us if we had two mod slots (see Sword, Vibro), there's no way a one-mod Red-Blue Ryyk Blade is overtaking a two-mod Red-Green BD-1 (which probably costs the same when all is said and done). 
 
All that to say, if you want to run sims of the damage potential of the Ryyk Blades with a one- or two-dice attack pool, feel free to knock yourself out on one of this series' recommended IA combat simulators (and post what you find if you find anything interesting!). For the rest of this article, we'll focus just on our six fully-spoiled three-dice variants (we'll circle back around to Drokkatta when he/she? is fully spoiled, although my educated guess is that he'd/she'd end up with a Red-Green-Blue while wounded, which we'll turn to in a minute).
 
Before we dive into the specific pools, here's some basic stats on what they roll past adjusted defense dice (we're not converting any surges at this point):
 
Ryyk_3_dice_pool_rolls.png
 
So the first thing to note is that these dice pools behave largely as we expect them to. The Yellow pools without Reds are on the low-end of damage and the high-end of surge, the Red pools without Yellows are on the high-end of damage and the low-end of surges, and the Red-Yellow pool (RYB) is better at damage and surges than the non-Yellow pool that doesn't have a Red (GBB). The damage on the red pools is quite good (better than 75% odds at dealing 2D+, and nearly 50% odds or better at rolling at least 1 surge past defense dice), and the Yellow pools have at least a 30% chance of rolling 2 surges past defense dice (and as high as 56% on the Yellow-Yellow pool).
 
The other thing we'll need to train ourselves to remember is that these aren't independent pools. The Yellow-Green-Blue and Red-Green-Blue are, in some metaphysical way, the same pool, just in two different game states (healthy hero vs. wounded hero). So we need to understand that if we like the Ryyk Blades for Onar because we like how they perform with their Red-Yellow-Blue attack pool, we're also taking the Yellow-Yellow-Blue pool (and, in fact, we may play with that Yellow-Yellow-Blue pool for the majority of the time in our campaign). To aid us in remembering this, we'll look at both pools together, and whenever possible attempt to overlay them side-by-side so we can keep the full-picture of how this weapon is performing in the forefront of our minds.
 
Alright, enough stalling. Release the (fully spoiled) Wookie!!!
 
(And Biv.)
 
 
The Forebears: Gaarkhan & Biv (Healthy-YGB, Wounded-RGB)
 
We'll start with our "traditional" top-tier Might attribute: Gaarkhan (Core set) and Biv (Twin Shadows), who roll a healthy Yellow-Green-Blue and wounded Red-Green-Blue. Here's their cards in case you haven't trotted them out for a spin in a while:
 
Gaarks_healthy.jpg     Gaarks_wound.jpg
Biv_H.jpg     Biv_W.jpg
[Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]
 
It's worth noting on the outset that while a Melee weapon is a no-brainer for Gaarkhan (CHARGE!!!), there are any number of reasons you might not want to take a melee weapon on Biv. The problem with Biv (apart from his high-strain cost special action which is almost always overkill, his low endurance and speed when wounded, and his lack of top-tier xp cards--although most of these problems can be mitigated if not corrected through proper gear choices) is that four of his eight xp cards either buff or trigger "Close and Personal," which requires that Biv have a ranged weapon equipped for maximum mileage (spending 2 strain for a two-dice melee attack, no matter how buffed, isn't the most efficient play). It's certainly possible Biv could have both a melee weapon and a ranged weapon equipped, but probably not if the melee weapon costs northwards of 1000 credits (especially since the melee component of "Close and Personal" has its own specified dice pool instead of keying off of an equipped melee weapon), unless Biv keeps his starting weapon, loads it up with the 3xp Vibrobayonet, and triggers "Close and Personal" sparingly... which has now intrigued me. But more on that later. Maybe. ;)
 
For now, we'll just suspend our disbelief and note that Biv could take the Ryyk Blades if he wanted, and that if he did so, he could attain the following combat results. :D
 
Vibro_A_card.jpg     Repeat_B_card.jpg
[Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]
 
The first thing to confirm is that adding the Ryyk Blades to Gaarkhan or Biv would be an improvement over their starting weapons. If it's not, then why bother, right? Here's how those two weapons perform in combat if we prioritize damage-dealing surges:
 
Biv_and_G_starting_charts.png
 
As it turns out, there's no contest. Both YGB and RGB substantially outperform these starting weapons, both in terms of raw damage and surges rolled past defense dice:
 
Biv_and_G_starting_charts_vs_Ryyk.png
 
So far so good. :P
 
The next step is to see how the Ryyk Blades perform with an attached mod. Since we're already dealing with varying dice colors, I've left off the Tier II Energized Hilt (again, feel free to use those calculators if you want to look at something specific). Here's how the YGB Ryyk Blades fare with our seven basic melee mods equipped, compared to the two starting weapons:
 
YGB_dmg_chart.png
 
Once again, there's no comparison between what the starting weapons and Ryyk Blades are giving us, which is a good sign. Beyond that:
  • First, note that due to the Ryyk Blade's no-surge cap on spending surges for damage, in a full damage surge hierarchy we never trigger Cleave 2 or surge for Recover or another surge ability. Everything we roll is going straight to damage.
  • As a result, we get some pretty good damage out of a dice pool that features a Yellow and no Red. Three variants (+ B. Hilt, + Shock E., and + HighG) all have better than 80% odds at dealing 3D+ past defense dice, 65-70%-ish odds at dealing 4D+, and roughly 40% odds at dealing 5D+, which is quite good. The Balanced Hilt and Shock Emitter get there by adding a "free" damage (either actual damage or a surge-for-a-damage) to our maximum roll, and the High-Impact Guard gets there by making one of our surges hit twice as hard (worth +2D instead of just +1D). Adding the surge or damage ends up being slightly better (although with the exception of the 4D+ band, it's all within our ~3% margin of error), but both are only once-per-round effects (due to exhaust penalties) while the static bonus from the High-Impact Guard is persistent.
  • In fourth is the Vibrogenerator. It's quite a bit ahead of the Weighted Head and Extended Haft, neither of which contributes to the naked Ryyk Blade's damage output. But given that the naked Ryyk Blade rolls 2+ surges almost 50% of the time (43.5%), the Vibrogenerator is cutting even (2 surges for +2D) at a much higher clip than it does for other weapons that don't feature Yellow dice.
Speaking of which, let's see what happens when Gaarkhan or Biv loses that Yellow die and replaces it with a Red while wounded...
 
RGB_dmg_chart.png
 
So just a note on layout first. These are the same Ryyk Blade mods, presented in the same order (highest-to-lowest damage output in a damage hierarchy), with their Red-Green-Blue results slotted directly to their right. If we were ordering all twelve results independently from high-damage to low-damage, the ordering would be quite different (as it happens, the Red-Green-Blue Vibrogenerator variant jumps all the way to the front, while its Yellow-Green-Blue variant would stand pat in 8th). But since we're buying both the Yellow-Green-Blue and the Red-Green-Blue when we purchase the Ryyk Blades, we're keeping them grouped together here.
  • Every variant receives an appreciable spike in damage when we swap that Yellow die for a Red. In some cases, it's extreme (more on that in a moment). This isn't exactly an earth-shattering discovery, but it's worth noting that it holds true even on a hyper-surge weapon (or at least on a hyper-surge weapon that isn't surge-efficient).
  • The Balanced Hilt and Shock Emitter remain excellent options in their Red-Green-Blue form, eclipsing the 80% mark for 4D+ and the 60% mark for 5D+ (although in both cases, just barely). 
  • The High-Impact Guard falls behind them (and the Vibrogenerator), but that's to be expected. The Guard only benefits us if we manage to roll at least 1 surge past defense dice, and when we swap a Yellow for a Red in this pool, our odds of rolling at least 1 surge falls from a pretty-reliable 76.6% to a barely-more-likely-than-not 56.4%. We still get the Guard to trigger more often than not (hence the higher damage output for the Guard over the Weighted Head, Extended Haft, or naked variants), but it's definitely triggering less than the Vibrogenerator is removing 2 full surges.
  • And speaking of those non-damage-additive variants, they still manage to hit the 80% mark on 3D+ and the 60% mark on 4D+, which isn't shabby.
Lastly, because these two pools are part-and-parcel, let's add some data callouts to the chart we just looked at to give us an idea of just how much the shift from "healthy" to "wounded" impacts our damage:
 
RGB_dmg_chart_callouts.png
 
Not surprisingly, the Vibrogenerator variant gets the biggest overall boost (not surprising if its Red-Green-Blue ends up in 1st while our Yellow-Green-Blue variant gets lodged back in 8th), including two huge +25 percentile point jumps in the 5D+ and 6D+ damage bands. The High-Impact Guard's gains are the most moderate (just one double-digit bump, a +12.9% in the 5D+ band), suggesting that its results are probably the most predictable (if not the most splashy). Most of the variants get their big boost in 4D+, 5D+, and 6D+ (although the boost for the Weighted Head, Extended Haft, and naked variants moves up one band, to the 3D+, 4D+, and 5D+ range).
 
We see a similar phenomenon when we switch our focus from damage to Keyword procs. Because we have four more full dice variants to cover, we're going to streamline this analysis somewhat. After going through all (but one) tiered melee weapons, we have a pretty good sense of what mods help improve our keyword proc rate: the Balanced Hilt (for the extra surge), Shock Emitter (for a free +1D to make it easier to land a keyword), and the Weighted Head (for tons more keyword procs than any normal weapon can offer). So comparing those three mods with our basic YGB and RGB pools should give us a pretty good sense of our Ryyk Blade's upper-tier keyword performance:
 
RGB_key_chart.png
 
So when it comes to damage + Cleave 2 proc, the Balanced Hilt variant is the clear winner: 80% odds at 2D+ and 90% odds of Cleave 2 in YGB, and in RGB 80% odds of 3D+ with ~85% Cleave 2 proc rate. It's once per activation, but such is life. The Shock Emitter gets us roughly the same damage output, but lower Cleave proc rates (72% in YGB, 57% in RGB), and again, it's once per activation. The Weighted Head has very poor damage in YGB (~74% at 1D+ with just a 59% chance at Cleave 2 (and a 74% chance at that exhaust-to-trigger Cleave 1). With the Red die, the Weighted Head's damage is greatly improved (77% chance at 2D+), while suffering just a minor loss in Cleave 2 proc rate (51.7% instead of 58.7%). That second Cleave 1 from the Weighted Head is an outside chance (32.4% in YGB, 16.7% in RGB) and the third Cleave 1 is extremely unlikely (10% YGB, 2% RGB), so if we're taking the Weighted Head with dreams of grandeur, we're probably setting ourselves up for failure.
 
Lastly, surge proc rate. There's really only one mod that matters--the Balanced Hilt--so that's what we'll look at:
 
RGB_surge_chart.png
 
So surprise surprise, the Yellow-Green-Blue Ryyk Blade actually has a pretty good chance at getting that surge ability to fire (77.8%). And so does the RGB, given that it doesn't have any Yellow dice (the fact that there's three dice, and therefore three independent chances to roll a surge, definitely helps). But equipping the Balanced Hilt is about as close as we can get to a sure thing (in our 2000 black dice tests, the YGB + Balanced Hilt variant forced at least 1 surge past defense dice a whopping 99.1% of the time). Plus, given our Ryyk Blade's uncapped ability to surge for damage, we know that triggering the Hilt will never be a "waste" (unless, of course, we consider overkilling some poor imperial sap a "waste"... which I'm pretty sure Gaarkan and Biv would never do ;) ).
 
Our (Unlikely) Surge Specialist: Onar (Healthy-YYB, Wounded-RYB)
 
Next is Onar (Jabba's Realm), who sports an unorthodox Yellow-Yellow-Blue when healthy and a Red-Yellow-Blue when wounded. Here are his cards:
 
Onar_H.jpg     Onar_W.jpg
[Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]
 
Unlike Gaarkhan and Biv, Onar doesn't have a preferred weapon type (although he starts with a ranged weapon). Also unlike Gaarkhan and Biv, Onar actually has several ways to control how much damage he takes (if by "how much damage he takes" we mean "a way to self-inflict damage to make himself wounded"). In fact, getting maximum use out of his class deck virtually requires us to self-inflict damage. So getting a Red die out of "wounded" may end up playing to his strengths... ironically enough.
 
His starting weapon is... uh...
 
Bodyguard_R_card.png
[Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]
 
So there's nothing bad about what we have: Red-Green is a pretty strong pool (though for a ranged weapon, it does pose some accuracy problems). The bad is what's missing: no surge abilities (not even for +accuracy) and no mod slot. So even knowing virtually nothing about ranged weapons, we have an intuitive sense that this weapon's ceiling is going to be majorly capped (damage floor of 1D (Red-1D, Green-1S), damage ceiling of 5D (Red-3D, Green-2D), assuming sufficient accuracy).
 
Unsurprisingly, the Ryyk Blades are a major improvement over the Bodyguard Rifle when it comes to damage, even in its Yellow-Yellow-Blue variant. And the Red-Yellow-Blue is incredibly strong, especially when modded:
 
RYB_dmg_chart.png
 
That's the Bodyguard Rifle waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay over there, on the right. Which is fine as far as starter weapons go, but not exactly something to clasp to the death. Some other thoughts:
  • As with the YGB/RGB variants, we aren't wasting any surges on anything other than pure damage.
  • The Yellow-Yellow-Blue variant, without a damage enhancing mod, actually does some decent damage (80% or better at dealing 2D+, and an outside chance at 6-8D). Adding the Red helps quite a bit in the 4-6D+ bands especially, though it actually doesn't increase our damage ceiling (because we have an outside chance at that Yellow die being worth 3D if we roll the damage-double-surge face).
  • The High-Impact Guard, Vibrogenerator (RYB variant only), Balanced Hilt, and Shock Emitter do improve our damage ceiling (adding an extra damage or surge, or getting 2D out of a single surge--or 2D out of no surges in the Vibrogenerator's case). The High-Impact Guard and Vibrogenerator again lag just a little behind the Hilt and Emitter in YYB, and the High-Impact Guard lags just a bit behind the other three when we switch to RYB. There's clear separation between those four and the rest of the pack.
  • Looking at the variance between the "healthy" and "wounded" variants, the damage-mods pick up the majority of their gain in the 3-5D+ bands, and the non-damage mods in the 2-4D+ bands. The Vibrogenerator's gains are much more modest this time (there is still a Yellow involved after all, even when wounded), and the High-Impact Guard again proves the least affected.
  • If we adjust the entire chart to reflect total damage dealt (regardless of pairing), the Shock Emitter and Balanced Hilts narrowly edge out the Vibrogenerator this time. Again, a Yellow is involved, so that's probably undermining the "value added" of the Vibrogenerator
Turning to keywords, we have several impressive candidates: 
 
RYB_key_chart.png
 
The Balanced Hilt again leads the pack (topping out at 89.9% adjusted proc rate for Cleave 2 if we use YYB + Balanced Hilt, combined with an 82.9% chance of 2D+). Interestingly, damage with the Shock Emitter is actually lower than damage with the Balanced Hilt, especially when comparing the YYB pools. It's damage is still better than YYB damage without the Shock Emitter, but this is one of the rare cases when the Balanced Hilt is better than the Shock Emitter in both damage dealt and keywords procced. And our Weighted Head variants do quite well here. In YYB, our damage is still dangerously low (68.2% odds at 1D+), but if we can get that 1D+ to land, we have a nearly 40% chance of Cleave 2 + Cleave 1 + Cleave 1 (38.8%), and a nearly 1-in-5 chance at another Cleave 1 (18.7%), just for spite. In Red-Yellow-Blue, our odds fall somewhat (28.5% odds of Cleave 2 + Cleave 1 + Cleave 1, just a 7.7% odds of that third Cleave 1), but a much higher chance of dealing the damage we need to Cleave in the first place (84.1% for 1D+).
 
Finally, surges. Unsurprisingly, YYB + Balanced Hilt gets us a surge virtually whenever we need/want it:
 
RYB_surge_chart.png
 
That Yellow-Yellow-Blue Balanced Hilt variant laded 1+ surges in 99.7% of our 2000 tests conducted against black defense dice (1994 of 2000 tests). And that Red-Yellow-Blue variant? 98%. Not bad, right?
 
One last word on Onar. It's worth noting that the stats above are the floor of what Onar can do with these weapon/mod combos--at least as far as damage goes. The damage ceiling can top out much higher, thanks to class cards like "Mutual Destruction" (2xp), "Hold Still" (3xp), and "Don't Make Me Hurt You" (4xp).  You can salivate on that if you wish... :D
 
 
Never Underestimate the Mandalorian: Shyla (Healthy-GBB, Wounded-RBB)
 
Last we have Shyla (Jabba's Realm). Like Gaarkhan, she's clearly intended to be a melee character (at least if we want to take full advantage of "Mandalorian Whip"... which we do, as often as possible). And like Onar, she has a "unique" might pool: Might is clearly supposed to be her best attribute, but she doesn't have any Yellow dice in her might pool:
 
Shyla_H.jpg     Shyla_W.jpg
[Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]
 
On the one hand, we like this. Yellows are notorious for skimping damage, after all. But on a weapon like the Ryyk Blades where surges (literally) equal 1D, we might have concerns about a dice pool where surges will be relatively rare (especially when wounded).
 
Shyla's also unique in that she has one of the more interesting starting weapons in the game. 
 
Duel_B_card.png
[Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]
 
In its base form, it's terrible: a Yellow-Green with +1D and Pierce 1 is better than it could be, but only because the two surge abilities aren't total stinkers. In its special Red-Green form, it's actually a top-tier Starter weapon (and as good as most Tier I modded weapons, too). Swapping a Red-Green for a Green-Blue-Blue (even though it's three dice) doesn't exactly inspire excitement, right?
 
Well...
 
RBB_dmg_chart.png
 
So once again, we may have underestimated the power-creep between two-dice and three-dice weapons. The GBB Ryyk Blade is significantly better than even the Red-Green Duelist's Blade. And, in a rare feat, every RBB and GBB variant nets at least 87% odds at dealing 2D+, and better than 70% odds at dealing 3D+.
  • In the GBB layout, the Balanced Hilt and Shock Emitter lead the pack yet again, with roughly 70% odds at dealing 4D+ and roughly 40% odds at dealing 5D+. Switching the Green for the Red bumps those odds to ~75% for 4D+ and 50-55% for 5D+, with the Shock Emitter pulling ahead of the Balanced Hilt at 5D+.
  • The GBB High-Impact Guard is actually slightly better than the GBB Vibrogenerator in early damage (2-3D+) before the Vibrogenerator pulls ahead late. The RBB High-Impact Guard actually results in a slight decrease in early damage (1-3D+) compared to its GBB counterpart, though its odds at high-end damage increase quite a bit (up to +10 percentage points in the 6D+ band, from 9.4% to 19.6%). And the Red-Blue-Blue Vibrogenerator is tops among all mods for total damage, with better than 75% odds at 4D+, nearly 60% odds of 5D+, and nearly 40% odds of 6D+.
  • The Weighted Head mod, even in this set-up, has an incredibly good chance at dealing an exhaust-to-use Cleave 1 (thanks to its 91.6% odds of dealing 1D+ past defense dice). Paired with Shyla's class ability for Cleave 3, this could be quite a bit of Cleave damage coming out of a surge hierarchy that's solely focused on damage.
Speaking of Cleave, it turns out this weapon actually isn't all that bad at triggering Cleave when we want to, either:
 
RBB_key_chart.png
 
The key stat here, I think, is that the base Ryyk Blade, with just the Extended Haft on it (for Reach) triggers Cleave 2 almost 60% of the time (59.9%) with absolutely no help (to go with 86.8% odds of 1D+). And while getting wounded drops us down below 50%, the 48.9% mark is still really strong considering we're rolling two Blues and a Red. Taking the Balanced Hilt can push our Cleave 2 proc rate comfortably into the 80s, even with that Red-Blue-Blue, and also improves our damage (better than 50% odds of 4D+ in the RBB set-up). And the Weighted Head variant gives our GBB variant a nearly 20% chance of Cleave 2 + Cleave 1 + Cleave 1 (18.5%), which would be a nasty combo with Shyla's Cleave 3 class card.
 
And, in a pinch, the Balanced Hilt variant still nets us pretty good surge proc rates even with these non-surge friendly dice pools...
 
RBB_surge_chart.png
 
... all while maintaining very good damage results (minimum odds of 87% on 1D+, 73% on 2D+). Surging isn't this weapon's strong-suit, but in Shyla's hands it's flexible enough to perform that role if we need it to.
 
 
Our (Penultimate) Top-Melee Weapon Ranks
 
If we slot our Ryyk Blades into our previous lists of top melee weapons, they actually perform quite well (or at least some of them do). Starting with surge proc rate, we've already noted how the Yellow-Yellow-Blue and Yellow-Green-Blue variants, paired with the Balanced Hilt, virtually guaranteed we had a surge whenever we needed it when facing Black defense dice. And unsurprisingly, their strong performance catapulted them to the top of the surge weapon charts:
 
Surge_10_chart.png
 
All told, three Ryyk Blade variants forced their way into our top 10 (in one of the more curious outcomes of the night, Onar's Red-Yellow-Blue Ryyk Blade is actually a top-8 surge weapon, while sporting the best damage among the elite). The big takeaway is the huge damage disparity between the Tier III, three-dice entrants (the Ryyk Blades and Force Pike) and all the others. Power creep, anyone?
 
The Ryyk Blades weren't quite  good enough to displace the Electrostaff from the top of our keyword rankings...
 
Key_10.png
 
... but all six of their Weighted Head varaints did make the top 10, so that has to mean something, right? Interestingly enough, the Ryyk Blade entrants managed to stay clustered in their correct pairs: Onar's two variants place 3d and 4th, Gaarkhan and Biv's place 5th and 6th, and Shyla's counter-intuitive variants placed 7th and 8th. They beat out the Electrostaff + Shock Emitter and our former #1, the BD-1 + Balanced Hilt + Weighted Head, whose once-impressive Cleave procs now look... like they're second-tier.
 
That leaves us with damage. Which, it turns out, these Ryyk Blades are pretty good at... or at least their wounded variants are:
 
Dmg_11.png
 
Looking at the bottom third of our top 15 (#11-15), slots 12, 13, and 14 are taken up by Ryyk Blade variants. Two of them feature the Shock Emitter (Shyla's RBB and Onar's RYB) and one features the Balanced Hilt (Onar's RYB). They're sandwiched between the Electrostaff with the High-Impact Guard and the Tier II BD-1 Vibro Ax with the Tier I Extended Haft (for Pierce 1) and the Tier III Vibrogenerator, which was at one time a top-2 damage dealer.
 
Next to our Ryyk Blade variants I've placed their corresponding "healthy" version, along with its stats and {total damage ranking}. Shyla's GBB Ryyk Blades with the Shock Emitter come in at a very respectable 26th overall, which is very good for a weapon with no red dice (three-dice attack pool notwithstanding). Onar's YYB variants come in slightly lower (31st for the Shock Emitter, 33d for the Balanced Hilt), but we're still looking at top-30-ish weapon damage with those mods equipped, which is really quite remarkable for a dice pool that features two Yellows and a Blue (and all while retaining a damage ceiling of 9D, or two better than what the BD-1 variant can top out with).
 
Most of the promising Ryyk Blade variants end up slotting in our 6-10 range:
 
Dmg_6.png
 
Shyla's top entry, the RBB Vibrogenerator variant, tops out at 8th (29th for the GBB variant). Considering that we're getting basically no mileage out of the Ryyk Blade's special surge-spending ability and yet still manage to deal 5 or more damage almost 60% of the time, this is pretty good. The RGB Balanced Hilt and Shock Emitter variants finish a solid 7th and 9th respectively, and their Yellow-Green-Blue variants are nearly top-20 weapons (21st for the Balanced Hilt version, 22d for the Shock Emitter version). The rest of this bracket is filled out by the Electrostaff (6th with the Balanced Hilt, and 10th with the Red-Red-Blue Energized Hilt).
 
That leaves the top-5, and one top-tier Ryyk Blade candidate still unaccounted for:
 
Dmg_1.png
 
In a top-tier still dominated by the Electrostaff (and, ironically, still one top-of-the-line Tier II monster), the RGB Ryyk Blades with the Vibrogenerator end up in second behind the Electrostaff + Shock Emitter (although if you look at the numbers, the Electrostaff outperforms the Ryyk Blades pretty handily until we get to 8-9D+). The question mark is the YGB variant, which performs the worst of all the "healthy" Ryyk Blades we've seen in our top 15 (45th overall).
 
In other words, if we take the Ryyk Blades with this set-up, we probably want to be wounded more than we do with any of the other top-tier damage weapons. If going from "healthy" to "wounded" means my weapon improves from a "top-20" weapon to a "top-10," I'm probably very satisfied to not be wounded all game (and perhaps slightly less bummed when I do get wounded). But if the "cost" of staying healthy is using a top-50 weapon instead of a top-2... that's a pretty severe damage nerf. For someone like Gaarkhan, who can become Focused if he takes too much focus-fire (and in fact can improve his damage dramatically while wounded without suffering any drop-off in mobility or endurance), maybe it's worth it. But Biv probably doesn't want to be wounded if he can help it (because his stats and abilities don't really help him weather that storm), and would probably be just as happy to settle for the Balanced Hilt Ryyk Blades.
 
Next time, we'll repeat this exercise by wrapping up our final Tier III melee weapon (!!!!!). And it's a potentially-lorebreaking (and already a simulator-breaking) doozy...
 
Ancient_L_card.jpg
[Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]
 
Inevitable post-posting edits: No videos this time! Let me know if that makes you happy or sad. ;)
 
 
 
 
 

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Another excellent and informative post!  I was dismissive of the Ryyk Blades, so this was an eye opener.  As for the videos in the previous post, they were well selected and hilarious.  :D  Although, I'm fine without them too.  As the creator of the posts, I figure whatever floats your boat is the way to go.  I'll be reading your analyses either way.  :D

 

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One comment about the Ryyk Blades - the language used in the bottom half ability ("convert" surge results to damage results) means that those surges that you convert are not cancelled by evades. Do you take this into account in your calculations? I'm guessing that would significantly increase the damage output of this weapon against white dice and certain class cards.

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3 hours ago, Stompburger said:

One comment about the Ryyk Blades - the language used in the bottom half ability ("convert" surge results to damage results) means that those surges that you convert are not cancelled by evades. Do you take this into account in your calculations? I'm guessing that would significantly increase the damage output of this weapon against white dice and certain class cards.

So first off, this is a great catch (it's time for me to take another deep-dive into the RRG, apparently).

Having looked into it more, it appears that the timing you outlined is right (I think for the following reasons):

----------------------

The "convert" rule (found on p. 9 of the RRG) states:

Quote

Convert

Some abilities convert one die result into another. When resolving one of these abilities, the old result is treated as if it did not exist, and is completely replaced by the new result.

  • These abilities are resolved during the Apply Modifiers step of an attack, unless they require a (surge).
  • After being converted, the new result may be converted again by other effects.

 

Thus, the Ryyk Blades can target any number of "surge" results on dice that have been rolled, and choose to treat them as if they were "damage" results instead. Since the Ryyk Blade's special ability isn't a surge ability (spend X surge to trigger Y), the caveat in bullet point 1 doesn't apply. This conversion occurs during the "apply modifiers" phase of an attack.

The rule for the "Apply Modifiers" phase of an attack states:

Quote

4. Apply Modifiers: If players have any effects that gain or remove icons or Accuracy, they are applied at this time. This includes spending (evade) results to remove (surge) results.  Any (surge) abilities that provide modifiers are not resolved until step 5.

The base rule includes spending Evades to remove Surges, and also conversion of surges to damage results per the convert rules. Since both occur during the same attack phase, the order of events depends on timing. The RRG's timing rules for a campaign would resolve mission rules, then IP effects, then Rebel effects (which originally tripped me up), but the timing for attacks in both campaign and skirmish is what should control and reads as follows:

Quote

During an attack, in both a campaign and a skirmish, resolve mission rules first, followed by effects triggered by the attacker, then effects triggered by the defender.

Converting a surge rolled by a Ryyk Blade would clearly be an "effect[] triggered by the attacker," and cancelling a surge with an Evade would clearly be an "effect[] triggered by the defender." Hence, any rolled surges could be converted to damage before the surges are removed. I'm also assuming that something like the Balanced Hilt (which adds a surge during attack phase 4) could then be convert from a surge into a damage before the Evade would be triggered (since it, too, would be an "effect[] triggered by the attacker").

The only remaining question is whether the basic rule that an Evade removes a Surge is a "mission rule." I'm inclined to think not (except perhaps if the surge is being removed because of Weakened), and that seems to be the general consensus in the FFG forum and Boardgamegeek forum posts I looked at, but I couldn't find any place in the RRG that expressed that explicitly.

---------------------------

Second, to answer your precise question, no: the stats above don't allow our hero to convert a surge into damage if that surge would otherwise be removed by an Evade (or Dodge, though the Dodge result should function the same regardless of conversion). My initial guess is the same as yours, I think: the correct formula should result in a slight damage bump across the board (a smaller one against Black defense dice, and a more sizeable one against White dice). The total damage swing should be no more than +1D in any given trial, since we're only doing single-die tests so far (no Black-Blacks) and no single defense die has more than one Evade on it.

That said, I believe the majority of the current stats should be correct. Since the High-Impact Guard requires a surge ability to trigger, it will only be triggered if there is at least 1 surge rolled past a defense die, so it should be calculated correctly. So should all of the Keyword variants and Surge variants (for the same reason). The only difference stat-wise should be for our non-High-Impact Guard damage-centric weapons that were set-up to convert all damage into surges:

  • Balanced Hilt
  • Shock Emitter
  • Vibrogenerator
  • Weighted Head / Extended Haft / Naked

For each of these, there should be some trials where total damage dealt would increase by no more than +1D if the attack rolled a surge and the defense rolled an Evade. In that circumstance, I believe the attacker would always convert all surges to damage (to avoid losing any damage), so I can probably rejigger my simulator to treat all surges to damage for purposes of those trials. I'll post those updated tables when I have a chance to run them.

Edited by Rythbryt

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3 hours ago, Rythbryt said:

So first off, this is a great catch (it's time for me to take another deep-dive into the RRG, apparently).

Having looked into it more, it appears that the timing you outlined is right (I think for the following reasons):

----------------------

The "convert" rule (found on p. 9 of the RRG) states:

Thus, the Ryyk Blades can target any number of "surge" results on dice that have been rolled, and choose to treat them as if they were "damage" results instead. Since the Ryyk Blade's special ability isn't a surge ability (spend X surge to trigger Y), the caveat in bullet point 1 doesn't apply. This conversion occurs during the "apply modifiers" phase of an attack.

The rule for the "Apply Modifiers" phase of an attack states:

The base rule includes spending Evades to remove Surges, and also conversion of surges to damage results per the convert rules. Since both occur during the same attack phase, the order of events depends on timing. The RRG's timing rules for a campaign would resolve mission rules, then IP effects, then Rebel effects (which originally tripped me up), but the timing for attacks in both campaign and skirmish is what should control and reads as follows:

Converting a surge rolled by a Ryyk Blade would clearly be an "effect[] triggered by the attacker," and cancelling a surge with an Evade would clearly be an "effect[] triggered by the defender." Hence, any rolled surges could be converted to damage before the surges are removed. I'm also assuming that something like the Balanced Hilt (which adds a surge during attack phase 4) could then be convert from a surge into a damage before the Evade would be triggered (since it, too, would be an "effect[] triggered by the attacker").

The only remaining question is whether the basic rule that an Evade removes a Surge is a "mission rule." I'm inclined to think not (except perhaps if the surge is being removed because of Weakened), and that seems to be the general consensus in the FFG forum and Boardgamegeek forum posts I looked at, but I couldn't find any place in the RRG that expressed that explicitly.

---------------------------

Second, to answer your precise question, no: the stats above don't allow our hero to convert a surge into damage if that surge would otherwise be removed by an Evade (or Dodge, though the Dodge result should function the same regardless of conversion). My initial guess is the same as yours, I think: the correct formula should result in a slight damage bump across the board (a smaller one against Black defense dice, and a more sizeable one against White dice). The total damage swing should be no more than +1D in any given trial, since we're only doing single-die tests so far (no Black-Blacks) and no single defense die has more than one Evade on it.

That said, I believe the majority of the current stats should be correct. Since the High-Impact Guard requires a surge ability to trigger, it will only be triggered if there is at least 1 surge rolled past a defense die, so it should be calculated correctly. So should all of the Keyword variants and Surge variants (for the same reason). The only difference stat-wise should be for our non-High-Impact Guard damage-centric weapons that were set-up to convert all damage into surges:

  • Balanced Hilt
  • Shock Emitter
  • Vibrogenerator
  • Weighted Head / Extended Haft / Naked

For each of these, there should be some trials where total damage dealt would increase by no more than +1D if the attack rolled a surge and the defense rolled an Evade. In that circumstance, I believe the attacker would always convert all surges to damage (to avoid losing any damage), so I can probably rejigger my simulator to treat all surges to damage for purposes of those trials. I'll post those updated tables when I have a chance to run them.

Cool! Looking forward to seeing what difference it makes. With something like Onar's BYY vs. a white die (with no attachments), it's going to be a ~0.5 Damage increase across the board, right? Because it's 50% to roll an evade on a white die, and 98% to roll at least 1 surge with BYY. So it should be a significant boost in that case.

And as you said, even when you have the HIG, in the cases where your only surge is cancelled by an evade, you just convert it into damage instead of losing it. So it will still be an improvement in that case.

It's an advantage of the Ryyk Blades that I overlooked when evaluating it, and against certain classes and units (that depend on evades) it can be extremely powerful.

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On 9/9/2017 at 9:42 PM, Rythbryt said:

The only remaining question is whether the basic rule that an Evade removes a Surge is a "mission rule." I'm inclined to think not (except perhaps if the surge is being removed because of Weakened), and that seems to be the general consensus in the FFG forum and Boardgamegeek forum posts I looked at, but I couldn't find any place in the RRG that expressed that explicitly.

At page 5 "Attacks", "Steps of an Attack" at step "4. Apply Modifiers":

Quote

If players have any effects that gain or remove icons or Accuracy, they are applied at this time. This includes spending (evade) results to remove (surge) results. Any (surge) abilities that provide modifiers are not resolved until step 5.

And page 24 "Surges":

Quote

Each (evade) result removes one (surge) result. This effectively reduces the number of (surge) the attacker can spend by one.

The effect of Evade and when it has to be applied are clearly RRG rules. In many places you can understand that mission rules are only the ones on the mission page of the campaign guide. The clearer I can find is in Tutorial Guide at page 11 "The Campaign Guide":

Quote

6. Read Mission Briefing: The Imperial player reads the “Mission Briefing” section of the mission rules aloud to the Rebel players. If there are any map tiles in the diagram that have names, he should also indicate these tiles and names to all players. He keeps the rest of the mission rules to himself until instructed to resolve them.

Clearly the "rest of the mission rules" are on the only hidden guide to rebels.

Edited by Golan Trevize

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My 50 cents on the controversial weakened attacker using the Ryyk Blade. From page 9 "Convert":

Quote

Some abilities convert one die result into another. When resolving one of these abilities, the old result is treated as if it did not exist, and is completely replaced by the new result.

  • These abilities are resolved during the Apply Modifiers step of an attack, unless they require a (surge).
  • After being converted, the new result may be converted again by other effects.

Instead the Weakened card says "while attacking".

 

Now page 6 "Attack", "Special situations":

Quote

Any ability that is resolved “while attacking” or “while defending” can be used at any point during the attack with the following exceptions:

  • An ability that adds dice to a dice pool can only be used immediately before step 2 of the attack.
  • An ability that allows a player to reroll dice can only be used during step 3 of the attack.
  • An ability that allows a player to modify die results can only be used during step 4 of the attack.

That means dice are altered at step 4 of the attack (Ryyk Blade). Instead the Weakened applies at any time as it doesn't alter die (it does not convert X to Y), it applies to the end result (rolling+convert+effects+whatever) as stated by the card itself.

Edited by Golan Trevize

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4 hours ago, Golan Trevize said:

My 50 cents on the controversial weakened attacker using the Ryyk Blade. From page 9 "Convert":

Instead the Weakened card says:

full-image.jpg.3f53856556b6849d3063032b73b0e8d4.jpg

Now page 6 "Attack", "Special situations":

That means dice are altered at step 4 of the attack (Ryyk Blade). Instead the Weakened applies at any time as it doesn't alter die (it does not convert X to Y), it applies to the end result (rolling+convert+effects+whatever) as stated by the card itself.

Thanks for weighing in. The discussion of mission rules was particularly appreciated, since it helps set my mind a bit more at ease. :) 

I can see both cases for Weakened, but thankfully that's a more situational scenario than this series is designed to tackle, so I'm shamelessly going to punt on it. ;) 

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If you could, please post to let us know when you've made the updates; I'm really interested to see how it affects the damage output over various dice and attachments, especially because it's so hard to calculate the impact with the usual Attack Calculator.

Edited by Stompburger

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16 hours ago, Stompburger said:

If you could, please post to let us know when you've made the updates; I'm really interested to see how it affects the damage output over various dice and attachments, especially because it's so hard to calculate the impact with the usual Attack Calculator.

@Stompburger I will definitely re-post to let you know when I generate the new tables. Unfortunately it does involve altering some of the DNA of my simulator, so trying to rejigger it without breaking it is taking a little more time than I originally anticipated. :P

Edited by Rythbryt

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11 hours ago, Golan Trevize said:

@Rythbryt will you go through ranged weapons at the end of the analysis of all melee weapons?

@Golan Trevize Definitely yes. :D Hence the recent facelift on the "Recent Updates" post.

I actually began looking into weapon stats while building a weapon for Mak, but ended up starting the written series with melee weapons due to the added difficulties of charting accuracy (amazingly enough, damage probabilities often change depending on distance to target ;) ).  I think I've settled on a way to chart the data that doesn't present an incredible mess, so that should be ready to roll out soon.

Edited by Rythbryt

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9 hours ago, Suhawk75 said:

We just have to kidnap @Rythbryt family to ensure s/he does...

I'm sure @Rythbryt will understand

Now now, there's no need to resort to threats. :D

(Rythbryt had thought he'd been doing pretty well over the last couple of weeks... ;) )

Edited by Rythbryt

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22 hours ago, Rythbryt said:

I actually began looking into weapon stats while building a weapon for Mak

"What' s a good replacement for Mak's stater weapon?" is the fourth most important question after "Where Do We Come From?", "What Are We?", "Where Are We Going?"!

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