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Hockeyzombie

Preventing the snowball effect in Corellian Conflicts

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Last weekend my opponent conceded the campaign, and I couldn't really see a way to argue his points. Going into what became the final round (round three), both of his fleets had one win and one loss each while one of my fleets had two wins and the other was at two losses (but only an Arquitens and a TIE Fighter were scarred). I then tabled him in both games, losing a single Victory I and two Arquitens. Also some squadrons, but nothing I can't repair or field scarred. Basically I would have been in good shape going into the next round. My opponent was so battered that he couldn't even afford to clear the scars from all of his ships, and I was about to gain a major resource advantage thanks to bases. In short, I would almost certainly have smashed him in at least one of the battles in the next round, most likely knocking 100 or so points out of at least one of his fleets. I would have had plenty of points to repair any similar damage to my own fleets. 

 

What I'm looking for is a way to mitigate the snowball effect. I understand that if he plays very well he could minimize damage or do a Show of Force (we both used Imperial units, but I was the "Rebels") to regain some resources. But he'd be fighting at a disadvantage even if I didn't take advantage of the situation to seize Corellia. I enjoyed the sense of progression but a lot of that is lost when we hit a point where it was clear who was going to win. SO I'm looking for a house rule that prevents the situation from getting too one-sided while still rewarding me for killing ships.

 

My first thought is to leave everything as-is, except that scarred units don't permanently die if destroyed. So there's still a drawback to taking losses, but not one that can cripple a fleet entirely. While it is nicely dramatic that our campaign ended after one heroic victory by the "Rebels" it did create a situation that made continuing look like an unpleasant slog for my opponent, and I think this rule would prevent that without making kills feel pointless. But we've only done one campaign so I'm interested in thoughts and opinions. 

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The real problem is not how to prevent snowball, but how you do it without making the outcome of a game irrelevant.

You have to keep winning important.

I feel there is something to be done with carrying over an unscarred squadron or ship when you retire a fleet.

It can't be too complicated though.

In the end, the best solution (though hardly foolproof) is probably preventing the situation, and the best thing for that is equally skilled players.

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#1. Equally skilled players. #2. Every game, think rationaly about your chances to win. If you cannot due to points difference, show everyone what an efficient coward you are, run around and hyperspace retreat whole fleet turn 4. #3. deal with snowballing the same way "league of legends" professional players do: play low risk low reward and keep refusing to take high risks unless disproportionaly advantaged. Like all snowbally games, you win either by being a ludicrously better player/strategist or by convincing the opponent to take unnecessary risks.

Edited by Kikaze

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Example. After losing the first games, play back, hyperspace retreat to conserve resources, and use initial bases to scale to 500. If he attacks a base, PUNISH! once yhe fleets become 500, victory points wont matter much since final battle will decide.

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2 hours ago, ovinomanc3r said:

Maybe the disband fleet rule and build a new one.

We'd have to revise it, but that is worth considering. The issue we both had when it was mentioned is that at this point I had a 500 point fleet with no obvious counter, so throwing fresh fleets at it would be unproductive if not suicidal. We could rule it as new fleets having a point limit based on the average cost of the enemy fleets, maybe? Someone also suggested ruling that unscarred uniques can still be used, so this might work. Still provides a reason to avoid losing or suffering heavy losses but doesn't take you out of the campaign if you get pummeled after the really early rounds. 

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59 minutes ago, Kikaze said:

#1. Equally skilled players. #2. Every game, think rationaly about your chances to win. If you cannot due to points difference, show everyone what an efficient coward you are, run around and hyperspace retreat whole fleet turn 4. #3. deal with snowballing the same way "league of legends" professional players do: play low risk low reward and keep refusing to take high risks unless disproportionaly advantaged. Like all snowbally games, you win either by being a ludicrously better player/strategist or by convincing the opponent to take unnecessary risks.

1) There's basically just the two of us. There's a guy at our LGS that we often play on Saturdays but we don't have a reliable fourth player. We seem reasonably matched but I think I have an edge because I'm more willing to consult the forums and less likely to dismiss an effective plan because it's not very lore friendly. I'd consider a ramming list with CR90s but he would only do that with Hammerheads, for example. 

2) He was making effective decisions, aside from both of us forgetting about hyperspace retreat. Part of the issue we had may have been that often "charge right at him and brawl" was the best strategy and my list seemed a bit better at it. My dice were also crazy good in the final round. Things were actually very even until an absolutely massive blowout turn.

3) Admittedly this is one thing he should have done more. After I won the first game of round three I think he decided he had to really wound me in the other game so that we'd both have one fleet in good shape and one fleet limping along, which is a reasonable train of thought that backfired horribly. 

1 hour ago, Kikaze said:

Example. After losing the first games, play back, hyperspace retreat to conserve resources, and use initial bases to scale to 500. If he attacks a base, PUNISH! once yhe fleets become 500, victory points wont matter much since final battle will decide.

The problem with that is it requires handing a lot of wins to me, and the All Out Assault can only be declared by a team within five (or four?) Campaign Points of winning. I wouldn't risk everything when I have a commanding lead. I also would have attacked a base on round four because I could easily throw a full 500 points at a 450 point fleets with multiple scarred ships. I may have lost but I would have permanently taken a few valuable unique upgrades out of play. A comeback was possible, but it would have been a tedious experience and wouldn't have led to enjoyable games for either of us. Your advice is sound but it requires a willingness to fight through a situation he didn't want to fight through, and one that I didn't want to make him fight through. 

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A lot of tension can be had from a battle where one side is trying to preserve its numbers before retreating while the other is trying to inflict lasting damage. The meta-game of the campaign can be very interesting if you have a fleet you know is going to lose, but want to contain the strategic loss.

I'd suggest a Special Assault conducted by the wounded fleet so that even a loss won't result in slipping further in campaign points.

If you don't enjoy asymmetrical games or games where one side is fighting a holding action before a retreat - campaigns may not be for you. 

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9 minutes ago, Hockeyzombie said:

 2) He was making effective decisions, aside from both of us forgetting about hyperspace retreat. (Emphasis mine) Part of the issue we had may have been that often "charge right at him and brawl" was the best strategy and my list seemed a bit better at it. My dice were also crazy good in the final round. Things were actually very even until an absolutely massive blowout turn.

 

Forgetting to use hyperspace retreat in a campaign is like forgetting to use defense tokens in a game. It isn't a small mistake. The other issue is that using a high risk strategy in a game is a way to insure that the campaign snowballs. The campaign is a different way of playing. You can't play the game like you would a normal game of Armada. If you do, it's a recipe for the snowball effect.

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Just now, RobertK said:

Forgetting to use hyperspace retreat in a campaign is like forgetting to use defense tokens in a game. It isn't a small mistake. The other issue is that using a high risk strategy in a game is a way to insure that the campaign snowballs. The campaign is a different way of playing. You can't play the game like you would a normal game of Armada. If you do, it's a recipe for the snowball effect.

In fairness, ships usually died either before/after they could have retreated or while close to an Interdictor. We rarely had the option, and one of the few times I can remember thinking about it my ship was killed before it would have escaped. It also wasn't uncommon for me to consider it and decide to stay in and try to kill the threat first, which did backfire once--I won that game, but could have avoided a scar on one of my VSDs. 

 

Keep in mind we were both using Imperial ships and upgrades so Interdictors were often present and very consistently would have prevented any attempt at running. 

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If anything the 'scarred' mechanic is overly generous. I know its there to stop people getting hammered but to me it encourages taking even more risks.

 

The thing with going all out on a 'must win' victory is that you need to 

a) Have a backup plan 
b) Be prepared to not immediately concede if you lose
c) Know when to back out of the gamble and escape if you need to

 

If you had lost would you have conceded? because if so you were really just playing two games and then declaring a winner!

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54 minutes ago, Hockeyzombie said:

In fairness, ships usually died either before/after they could have retreated or while close to an Interdictor. We rarely had the option, and one of the few times I can remember thinking about it my ship was killed before it would have escaped. It also wasn't uncommon for me to consider it and decide to stay in and try to kill the threat first, which did backfire once--I won that game, but could have avoided a scar on one of my VSDs. 

 

Keep in mind we were both using Imperial ships and upgrades so Interdictors were often present and very consistently would have prevented any attempt at running. 

I don't mean to be overly critical. I just want to point out that it appears that the conditions under which the two of you played seem tailored to having the campaign snowball.

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We have had similar problems in our campaign, albeit not to the same extent. We have six players on a fortnightly basis - going into round 4, the Rebels have dominated the campain thus far (losing only one battle on the table, and one by forfeit when a player couldn't join us), and the Imperials have been left somewhat hobbled (although by no means entirely down and out). We tried to balance experience between the two teams reasonably, but what I've noticed is that the Imperial players regret their initial fleet choices more than the Rebels. Part of the problem has been that there were issues with their starting fleet that they haven't had the chance to resolve, now that they're spending so many points on refitting. They're not keen to start an entirely new fleet, as they' don't want to give up the upgrades or admirals they have, but they're lagging behind the Rebels.

That's why I would advocate having a pre-tournament "skirmish" with no consequences, so that players can test out their fleet before committing. Designing a 400 point fleet with a single upgrade per ship is a surprisingly different task to designing a normal tournament fleet, and, if you don't have the time to get together outside of campaign games, you wouldn't necessarily think to test out your list. By having an official pre-campaign game, you give players a chance to smooth out the kinks, which is particularly important for less experienced players. Yes, it takes an element of the unpredictability out, but it still just feels like it might nip certain problems in the bud. It won't solve the snowball problem, but it might make it harder for one to occur in the first place.

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2 hours ago, Hockeyzombie said:

1) There's basically just the two of us. There's a guy at our LGS that we often play on Saturdays but we don't have a reliable fourth player. We seem reasonably matched but I think I have an edge because I'm more willing to consult the forums and less likely to dismiss an effective plan because it's not very lore friendly. I'd consider a ramming list with CR90s but he would only do that with Hammerheads, for example. 

2) He was making effective decisions, aside from both of us forgetting about hyperspace retreat. Part of the issue we had may have been that often "charge right at him and brawl" was the best strategy and my list seemed a bit better at it. My dice were also crazy good in the final round. Things were actually very even until an absolutely massive blowout turn.

3) Admittedly this is one thing he should have done more. After I won the first game of round three I think he decided he had to really wound me in the other game so that we'd both have one fleet in good shape and one fleet limping along, which is a reasonable train of thought that backfired horribly. 

The problem with that is it requires handing a lot of wins to me, and the All Out Assault can only be declared by a team within five (or four?) Campaign Points of winning. I wouldn't risk everything when I have a commanding lead. I also would have attacked a base on round four because I could easily throw a full 500 points at a 450 point fleets with multiple scarred ships. I may have lost but I would have permanently taken a few valuable unique upgrades out of play. A comeback was possible, but it would have been a tedious experience and wouldn't have led to enjoyable games for either of us. Your advice is sound but it requires a willingness to fight through a situation he didn't want to fight through, and one that I didn't want to make him fight through. 

1) "there's basicaly just the two of us, but i try to build strong lists and he tries to build lorefriendly lists": THAT IS BIG. one of you must cater to the other. for example i'd try to build lore-friendly when playing against him! you cant just play stronger lists and expect things to be equal.

2) "charge and brawl" is never the best strategy in a snowbally game unless you have an unfair advantage (i.e. playing base assault, or with +50 points, or the other guy's list cannot brawl). "effective decisions" means "find a way to make the game unfair to your advantage". this is the basis of strategy.

3) this is a terrible decision. i did it too in my first CC game because i *didnt understand* it has such a snowbally nature. in snowbally games, "chasing a loss always"(that is, trying to even up with a win after you've lost significantly) leads to bigger losses. "concede until late game" is the name of the game.

 

Edited by Kikaze

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We have this exact situation, I am playing 1 vs 1 (two fleets apiece) and I am up 5-0, there were about 3 battles early on that were very close and I got a bit of luck and won, they proved a tipping point and now I have two 500 pt fleets and he has 500 and about 470 but full of scarred ships. The only victory he has had was the hyper lane assault I did. It does feel as though he is just hanging on, often using hyperspace retreat to save his scarred ships before he can get close to victory.

Its a shame because I am really enjoying it as a campaign, it just feels a bit one sided now and I feel guilty!

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The other issue I would note re: snowballing is that while picking your mission first is strong, the ability to pick two missions is much better. Obviously running a 3v3 as a 1v1 would be taxing to the extreme, it is easier for a struggling faction to hold its own when it has overall strategic initiative for two of three battles fought, instead of a 50-50 split. I really don't know how to solve that in a 2v2, but that is my strategic experience.

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1 hour ago, RobertK said:

I don't mean to be overly critical. I just want to point out that it appears that the conditions under which the two of you played seem tailored to having the campaign snowball.

It's a consequence of our playstyles. We both tend to go in hard and fight tenciously, so when part of the line falls it usually means that whatever killed it is right there to help kill the next target. This was especially noticeable with his Tarkin list and my Konstantine list because in both cases are usual approach was to try and concentrate our strength in a general area. When those lists fought, it was basically a phalanx vs phalanx situation. In theory I should have lost those because Interdictors don't hit like Victorys, but I feel I used Konstantine and my G8 to good effect. I'm also more prone to focus fire, so I usually get first blood even when I lose. You do have a point though, we probably should have worried more about the threat posed by Interdictors. If I had killed one faster my ISD might never have been scarred. 

2 hours ago, stuuk said:

If anything the 'scarred' mechanic is overly generous. I know its there to stop people getting hammered but to me it encourages taking even more risks.

 

The thing with going all out on a 'must win' victory is that you need to 

a) Have a backup plan 
b) Be prepared to not immediately concede if you lose
c) Know when to back out of the gamble and escape if you need to

 

If you had lost would you have conceded? because if so you were really just playing two games and then declaring a winner!

I wouldn't have conceded, but I tend to lose less dramatically. My Rhymerball fleet was 0-2, but had lost by 23 points the first time and by 1 point the second. By comparison, my Interdictor fleet had tabled the first list it fought (I may have lost a Victory I, don't recall) and scored another massive win in the second round. I could afford to lose a game with that fleet. If I had lost both games that round I probably would have stayed in, but I'm more willing to do things like dance in the corner and hyperspace away. I don't like that approach but if I'm desperate I'll consider it. Part of his reason for conceding was that the "retreat and recover" games wouldn't be fun for either of us, but they were his only hope. We did get six games in before victory was decided, so that wasn't too bad. 

 

33 minutes ago, Kikaze said:

1) "there's basicaly just the two of us, but i try to build strong lists and he tries to build lorefriendly lists": THAT IS BIG. one of you must cater to the other. for example i'd try to build lore-friendly when playing against him! you cant just play stronger lists and expect things to be equal.

2) "charge and brawl" is never the best strategy in a snowbally game unless you have an unfair advantage (i.e. playing base assault, or with +50 points, or the other guy's list cannot brawl). "effective decisions" means "find a way to make the game unfair to your advantage". this is the basis of strategy.

3) this is a terrible decision. i did it too in my first CC game because i *didnt understand* it has such a snowbally nature. in snowbally games, "chasing a loss always"(that is, trying to even up with a win after you've lost significantly) leads to bigger losses. "concede until late game" is the name of the game.

 

Sorry, I should have been more clear. He's not so much building lore lists as he won't do things like a ramming list with Engine Tech CR90s (because that would be useless in canon) or other things like that. He would definitely not put his commander in a flotilla and fly across the edge of the map, for example, because admirals traditionally command from the biggest or second biggest ship in the fleet and it feels inappropriate to not do that (I actually agree but mostly I'm afraid of losing my commander to prowling Raiders). He also seemed surprised when I chose my Gozanti and his ISD for a Most Wanted game, because he sees the goal as "kill their objective ship and protect yours" where I see "they're both gonna die so pick the cheapest and most expensive ships." I typically have an easier time looking away from the theme and simply examining the numbers involved, if that makes sense. I'm more prone to dismissing something as underpowered and then underestimating it in a game, but Armada doesn't have a lot of blatantly underpowered upgrades so my usual weakness is kind of irrelevant. His lore-friendly approach mostly just applies to objectives, but it does mean that I might win a game of Station Assault by ignoring the stations and killing most of his fleet--he wouldn't expect me to just ignore the objective outright, because that's why the game has objectives. That said, just handing over 80 points like that would be a little too bold for me. But that's the difference in our thinking, if a bit generalized.

Charge and brawl isn't a bad idea when he's got a Victory I and a pair of Victory IIs against an Interdictor a Gladiator I, and two Victory Is. His mistake was that it was a base defence so between my Gozanti and Armed Station I had insane activation advantage, which is something I usually either didn't have or didn't really need. Here, it resulted in his long range shots being answered by my close range shots with Assault Concussion Missiles. In a more even fight he could probably have overwhelmed my medium ships before the Gladiator could really make a name for itself, but being able to stall while throwing RRBB at him was just too good. He saw the problem and took out the station fairly quickly but that took attacks that didn't go into my "phalanx" of medium ships. We're both fairly new to Armada but I browse these forums more so I understood activation advantage fairly well. He would probably have played very differently if he had known, but the damage was done by the time he learned. 

I do agree that he should probably have backed off and played it safe in the final game. If he won he would have had something to threaten me with, since I'd probably be repairing scars instead of upgrading. I would still have come out ahead but it may have prevented the kind of disaster that ends campaigns. I do want to emphasize that we could have kept going, but he didn't want to go through at least two rounds of playing hyper-cautiously while I effectively get free wins. I also admitted that my next turn would have involved building a new base and then seizing Corellia to build a base on it, so I would have effectively never had to care about scars again. This also would have been relevant with a plan we had to add a reinforcement fleet each in round five, since mine would have gone to 500 points really, really fast.

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Just recently finished a CC campaign, we played 4 players.

We divided the players up very evenly with regards to experience and skill level, however, it was a bloodbath from the get-go.

Having never played the campaign we didn't realize that assaulting a base can be a painful proposition left to when you maybe have an enemy on the ropes, so when I assaulted a likely rebel "presence" and found out that my opponent (we were both the more experienced players) was going to add 4 Y-wings to his bomber fleet, against my modest squadron complement I was ready to take some beatings.

Unfortunately for him I deployed better, maneuvered like a boss (front-bumped his pickle with my ISD1) and won the match only losing Demo and 1 squadron where he ended up tabled (he could have potentially retreated his MC80 before it died but he didn't think of it since it was our first CC match). My partner also won (but by a closer margin).

Now, the problem became that the rebels had lost like 40 resource points on the very first turn. To compound this, they lost their attack on the neutral system meaning they couldn't replace the loss. At the same time the empire got to build a base there and gained those same resources! Double jeopardy. I think this is a major problem (considering house ruling that you can't build a base over a destroyed base until a full turn passes, pacifying the locals or whatever). Rebels were at an effective 80 point disadvantage. It turns out that its impossible to make up that kind of a blow and there is nothing in the campaign mechanics that will help you.

3rd round was the final battle (we called it to put them out of their misery since they lost both second round battles as well). Their 840 points went up against our 1000 points and the outcome was a foregone conclusion.

In summary, we will have to look at a bunch of different house rules to prevent or mitigate blowouts.

 

Our next run through we might implement the base build delay rule
we might also implement a rule whereby the team that is currently winning has to pay a token repair cost to remove damage cards from ships that survive (we did it for everyone last time and it certainly added a dimension of consideration since taking 13 damage cards on a Motti ISD was no longer "free" and therefore not a complete waste of time and effort for the opponents, it still didn't make enough difference)
Considering some other modifications that impact only the team that is currently losing on VPs, like for example having the option to retire a fleet yielding 2 VPs to field a fresh 500pt fleet (sounds harsh to give up 2, but those extra 100 pts can make a huge difference). Might also introduce other mechanics like the ability to trade VPs for resource injections (1 VP for X resources after a bad round can save a snowball of many VPs in the next round)

 

Will keep an eye out here for other ideas. 

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Again, the scarring mechanic. I understand why they put it in (preventing getting a kicking) but does it actually work against that idea sometimes?

If killing a ship was a big blow, maybe a smaller force could deal that heavy blow and then run in the same way you can win in a points game.
I like what they've done with the campaign but not sold on that one mechanic.

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3 hours ago, ceejlekabeejle said:

We have had similar problems in our campaign, albeit not to the same extent. We have six players on a fortnightly basis - going into round 4, the Rebels have dominated the campain thus far (losing only one battle on the table, and one by forfeit when a player couldn't join us), and the Imperials have been left somewhat hobbled (although by no means entirely down and out). We tried to balance experience between the two teams reasonably, but what I've noticed is that the Imperial players regret their initial fleet choices more than the Rebels. Part of the problem has been that there were issues with their starting fleet that they haven't had the chance to resolve, now that they're spending so many points on refitting. They're not keen to start an entirely new fleet, as they' don't want to give up the upgrades or admirals they have, but they're lagging behind the Rebels.

That's why I would advocate having a pre-tournament "skirmish" with no consequences, so that players can test out their fleet before committing. Designing a 400 point fleet with a single upgrade per ship is a surprisingly different task to designing a normal tournament fleet, and, if you don't have the time to get together outside of campaign games, you wouldn't necessarily think to test out your list. By having an official pre-campaign game, you give players a chance to smooth out the kinks, which is particularly important for less experienced players. Yes, it takes an element of the unpredictability out, but it still just feels like it might nip certain problems in the bud. It won't solve the snowball problem, but it might make it harder for one to occur in the first place.

That's a great idea. 

 

--

 

Equally skilled players really rarely happens.  And esp if you bring a larger group where some people are meeting for the first time, or if you're 1v1 with a friend, its usually never equally skilled.  And beyond that you have to overcome obvious human greed which wants to win and will try and make teams that aren't even.  

Yes, you should make equally balanced teams, but I rarely see that happening with most places.  it shouldn't have to be a requirement of assumption to make the CC work.  

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5 minutes ago, Blail Blerg said:

That's a great idea. 

 

--

 

Equally skilled players really rarely happens.  And esp if you bring a larger group where some people are meeting for the first time, or if you're 1v1 with a friend, its usually never equally skilled.  And beyond that you have to overcome obvious human greed which wants to win and will try and make teams that aren't even.  

Yes, you should make equally balanced teams, but I rarely see that happening with most places.  it shouldn't have to be a requirement of assumption to make the CC work.  

 

In every game of Armada player skill matters.

What kind of campaign do you imagine where somehow it is nullified? 

Also - if "obvious human greed" is getting in the way of a fun and balanced game with friends you need to find better friends. :ph34r:

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3 hours ago, GiledPallaeon said:

The other issue I would note re: snowballing is that while picking your mission first is strong, the ability to pick two missions is much better. Obviously running a 3v3 as a 1v1 would be taxing to the extreme, it is easier for a struggling faction to hold its own when it has overall strategic initiative for two of three battles fought, instead of a 50-50 split. I really don't know how to solve that in a 2v2, but that is my strategic experience.

Yep.  3v3 is the version designed to mitigate snowballing by giving the losing side note opportunities to establish bases and run resource operations. 

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5 hours ago, Hockeyzombie said:

 

2) He was making effective decisions (you go on to describe horrible awful decisions) aside from both of us forgetting about hyperspace retreat. Part of the issue we had may have been that often "charge right at him and brawl" was the best strategy and my list seemed a bit better at it. My dice were also crazy good in the final round. Things were actually very even until an absolutely massive blowout turn.

3) Admittedly this is one thing he should have done more. After I won the first game of round three I think he decided he had to really wound me in the other game so that we'd both have one fleet in good shape and one fleet limping along, which is a reasonable train of thought that backfired horribly.

This is what broke your campaign. Chalk it up to a learning experience with brand new content that radically changes the way the game is played, and start over with this knowledge.

I become more and more confident every day that the snowballing effect is a growing pain of learning the campaign that has soured a great many people's first impressions of it. If you KNOW going into round 1 that you cannot get tabled, then you won't. You will retreat, you will build up to 500 before taking a risky base assault that you know even with a great fleet may leave you heavily scarred. You will play smarter and not get spanked so hard the campaign becomes one sided.

First time through you don't know that stuff, so you get blown up and rage. Second time it doesn't happen unless you fail to learn your lesson and are pig-headed and refuse to play the scenario. In that case, CC isn't for you and you bought the box simply to have access to some rad unique squads and new objectives. Still a win.

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13 minutes ago, Democratus said:

 

In every game of Armada player skill matters.

What kind of campaign do you imagine where somehow it is nullified? 

Also - if "obvious human greed" is getting in the way of a fun and balanced game with friends you need to find better friends. :ph34r:

I'm just commenting on the other threads that basically said: make sure the sides are as even as possible.   

People here seek primarily to win, and express huge urges to run the most broken things they can for any occasion.  Sometimes you can't be picky about who plays Armada after all. Some other people don't even have a single person to play with.  We just have a really cutthroat area. 

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