SpikeSpiegel

Help With Testing A New Epic Format: Fighter Squadrons

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Hello fellow lovers of the Epic format! 

I am invoking the power of this community to help me playtest a variant format of Epic that I like to call Epic: Fighter Squadrons.

A brief little background on my experiences in X-Wing and playing Epic: I’ve been playing since 2014 and have been on top of the X-Wing Epic product releases with the exception of the C-ROC cruiser. I’ve played an 8-man 2,000 point game, a 1v1 800 point game, a 2v2 500 point game, several games of Team Epic, and several games of Epic, so to say the least, I’ve got a decent share of experience flying with a lot of plastic on the table.

Two weeks ago, I played a friendly game of Epic: Fighter Squadrons with one of the locals in our game night crew and it turned out to be really fun. We traded shot-for-shot and ship-for-ship until the game devolved into a 100 point dogfight, which couldn’t have been more fun at the end of 3 hours. 

The format is ruled as follows:

EPIC: FIGHTER SQUADRONS

-300 points of SMALL BASE ships ONLY.

-Each player brings 6 obstacles and places them away from range 2 of any board edge and away from range 1 of any other obstacle.

-Point bidding in lists for initiative is still viable.

-The game is over once all enemy ships are destroyed or the enemy concedes.

 

As of right now, the only restriction to list building is running small base ships only. I wanted to get the feel of fighters, bombers, and interceptors engaging in an aggressive, open conflict with each other without any added mechanics that Epic ships provide to the game. Just a straight-up, shoot-ya-face match that is enveloped in chaos and confusion and tests your mettle (and sanity) flying small bases only.

From the single game I’ve played, I’ve found that the list building and setup is not too hard, but challenging. Bidding for initiative and paying for higher PS-Aces is still taxing to maximizing your dice/HP-value of having a bigger point cap. As for setup, both my opponent and I spread our forces out wide and ended up converging in a more dense space to get the shooting and dogfighting started. Target priortization is also a must, as we both suffered from spreading out our shots rather than focusing on a single ship or ace pilot.

Time management and memorizing abilities and upgrades is also challenging, but that’s also the nature of the format and X-Wing as a game in its essence. While the round lasted 3+ hours, the luck of the dice or tactical decisions can shorten or lengthen that as well. Another issue we ran into was necessary board space. Since the game eventually devolved into a 100 point dogfight, as well as the convergence of forces into one space on one mat, we considered that the 3x6 table might be excessive. I’ve considered restricting the play area to the traditional 3x3 with 6 obstacles for convenience sake. However, after further discussion, we came to the logical conclusion that doing so would shift the format into pure jousting values and would be unfun. The size of the board offers different strategies besides head-on final salvos and K-Turns, such as flanking or conga lining with turreted ships.

As for munitions, my opponent brought Harpoon Missiles (to which I did not mind) and realized that the opportunity to fire them could also backfire on you with so many ships interacting, fighting and staying close together. TLT was fine, since there are so many ships  to hit and that its platform could be focusedone down before it gets its full value in play. I’ve considered removing bombs, missiles, torps, turrets, and cannons from the format, however, things like Y-Wings, K-Wings, Bombers, and Punishers would pretty much be unplayable. So, for now, they are staying. One thing to keep an eye out for is the Harpoon/TLT spam, which may warrant a future limitation if we find it to be too broken or spam-y. 

One list restriction I’ve considered is making a mandatory “Squadron Requirement” that a player must include at least 4 ships of the same ship model that total 100 points or more. For example, if you’d like to fly 4 Z-95s/TIE fighters to meet that requirement, you wouldn’t be able to without going up to 5 or 6 of them. But if you want to fly 4 Ace X-Wings, or 4 kitted out Defenders, or 6 Khiraxz, as long as they total 100 points or more, your list meets the “Squadron Requirement”. The biggest issue with that I have with this restriction is that not everyone is crazy and has that many models, which may shy them away from the format.

Should you choose to accept this mission...

What I am looking for in your playtesting:

-Test the format AS-IS: Please, I insist, that you play a game with the basic rules for Epic: Fighter Squadrons mentioned earlier in the topic with 300 points of small base ships only with 12 obstacles on a 3x6 board. This should give you a decent taste of the variant and give you a potential general direction of how you may modify it.

-Make note of the experience: Try to keep things in mind like initiative bidding, sequencing your ships, time management, and the overall satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the game you played. I’m most interested in criticisms and weaknesses where the format might fall short, such as being bland, boring, or too time-consuming.

-What edits or modifications do you have mind?: How would you change the format? Is further restriction needed in list building to make the game more unique or interesting? Should objective play be involved to make the game less monotonous? This is where I’d really like to hear how we can take the Epic: Fighter Squadrons format to the next level of balance and intrigue. 

Most importantly: I hope you all have fun. I had a lot of fun playing the one game of E:FS, and I hope you all will find it the same. But I do also wish to remain objective, and if the format feels like garbage or plays awful to you, I’d like to know that as well! 

Finally, I want to incentivize your time and work on a well-done, printable mini-booklet expansion for the format once we have as much testing and playing done to finalize the format as a whole.

Good luck, and May The Force Be With You! ...(Your ships are gonna need it)

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I do have a question/proposition. There are rules for using Huge ships as obstacles - would this be appropriate in fighter squadrons? For example, could I sub out 3 of my 6 obstacles to instead bring a huge ship that just functions as an obstacle (flipping the cardboard token to starfield-side up)? The only thing cooler than fighters zipping around, is fighters weaving among corvettes and transports. And having them be obstacles, the fighters will focus on dogfighting, and ignore the huge ships.

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4 hours ago, Parakitor said:

I do have a question/proposition. There are rules for using Huge ships as obstacles - would this be appropriate in fighter squadrons? For example, could I sub out 3 of my 6 obstacles to instead bring a huge ship that just functions as an obstacle (flipping the cardboard token to starfield-side up)? The only thing cooler than fighters zipping around, is fighters weaving among corvettes and transports. And having them be obstacles, the fighters will focus on dogfighting, and ignore the huge ships.

I don’t know if -3 rocks is enough. A raider and cr90 are pretty long. I’d say if a big huge ship is used that’s all 6 of your rocks right there, -3 for support huge’s.

Also for some real fun, since you can’t land on it, small ships are destroyed for overlapping and larges use standard blocked rules plus a red die roll for possible battle damage (crits count). Seems thematic to me and makes mistakes around the big ships costly.

Edited by LordFajubi

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12 hours ago, LordFajubi said:

I don’t know if -3 rocks is enough. A raider and cr90 are pretty long. I’d say if a big huge ship is used that’s all 6 of your rocks right there, -3 for support huge’s.

Yeah, but the base has the same size footprint, regardless of the model.  The official sub is 3-to-1; the actual model used as the derelict is moot.

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16 hours ago, LordFajubi said:

Also for some real fun, since you can’t land on it, small ships are destroyed for overlapping and larges use standard blocked rules plus a red die roll for possible battle damage (crits count). Seems thematic to me and makes mistakes around the big ships costly.

But that doesn't sound like fun. I think the current rules are good: treat it just like a ship, including rules for colliding and moving back along your template, but with a damage roll like an asteroid. This enables fast ships to dash across the huge ships without penalty...unless they get blocked on to the ship, in which case they back up, lose their action and roll for damage. To me, it's more exciting if the huge ship doesn't auto-kill because then it allows for some surprise maneuvers, and we all agree that maneuvering is the fun part.

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12 minutes ago, Parakitor said:

But that doesn't sound like fun. I think the current rules are good: treat it just like a ship, including rules for colliding and moving back along your template, but with a damage roll like an asteroid. This enables fast ships to dash across the huge ships without penalty...unless they get blocked on to the ship, in which case they back up, lose their action and roll for damage. To me, it's more exciting if the huge ship doesn't auto-kill because then it allows for some surprise maneuvers, and we all agree that maneuvering is the fun part.

I see your point but I hate ships that totally abuse obstructions. The game is supposed to emulate a 3d plane but lets face it you could play in a top down view like vassal and nothing changes, you move on x and y axises, it is a 2d game. So punishing a move that crashes you into something the size of a football field seems fair to me. Not for everyone though and it’s spikes ruleset so the choice is his. DM is right though, there is no greater satisfaction than beating someone of superior skill with superior dice lol

Edited by LordFajubi

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P L A Y T E S T I N G  U P D A T E :

 

Last Friday (1/26) I was able to get a game of E:FS in with @Parakitor and the format testing turned out well! 

First and foremost, you should check out the pics at the bottom of the post! We modified the initial setup rules: Instead of each player bringing 6 obstacles to be laid out individually a la Standard setups for 100/6 matches, we agreed to replace one obstacle for each Epic point that a ship is worth. In our case, Parakitor placed a Raider and three obstacles, while I placed a CR-90 and three obstacles.

This change made the game vastly different than my initial run of E:FS when my opponent and I just used twelve obstacles scattered throughout the board. The Huge ships with their blank bases are large and take up way more board space than three obstacles. We ended up setting them up diagonally and perpendicular to each other spaced out at about 1/3 of the board for each ship (reference pics at the end of this post). Setting the ships up in this manner essentially divided the board into three theaters: left side, middle, and right side. A number of the asteroids were placed in the middle and to my right, which led me to set up jousting lanes for my Rebels on the right side, my Adv. Sensors B-Wings in the middle to determine which theater they will participate in, and my A-Wing aces on my left side of the board due to the large amount of obstacles in that area.  Though the board was essentially broken up into three different theaters/zones/areas of operation, the game still held the nuance of an Epic game rather than just two or three 100-point games.

Huge ships as obstacles also change strategies by a great deal. Since the profile of the base of a Huge ship is so obstructive, we found our ships deadlocked in a zone while it took reinforcements from another zone a good amount of time to get from one area to the next. We played with the standard Epic rules of treating Huge ships as obstacles (like an asteroid, unless your maneuver entirely clears the base of the Huge ship) and it made planning our moves and strategies much more careful.

We actually really liked this change to the setup because it allows us to still utilize Huge ships in a game of Epic (which is what Epic is really about, after all) while still having 300 points of small-based action. I think this change is going to be a mandatory rule for the format, that each player needs to bring a Huge ship to the table and use its Epic points value in lieu of the number of obstacles you would've taken in its place. However, for the sake of simplification, I think the rule would be for each player to bring a Huge ship and three obstacles. I guess that would be worded as "For obstacles, each player brings an Epic ship and three obstacles of their choice." To make placement fair, we each placed our own Epic ship followed by placing one obstacle from the pool.  I think this change will be better for the format thematically and strategically. Thematically, we get to use our centerpieces for actual play, and strategically, it makes the game play way more unique and dynamic and requires players to think critically beyond just a 100/6 game with the point limit multiplied by three.  

AS FOR THE GAME ITSELF... I got whooped by Parakitor's Imperials. I flew a group of Rebel Aces (Wedge, Wes, Luke, Garven, Horton, Tycho, Jake) backed by Tactician B-Wings with Linked Battery. He flew 13 TIEs including Soontir, Howlrunner, Duchess, Pure Sabacc, and two Defenders with x7. I split my forces into three groups for each zone of the board: Jake and Tycho covered the left flank in order to play as decoys to split up the massive force of 13, I placed Red Squadron + Horton to my right side of the board in order to joust a majority of the low and mid-PS level Imperials hoping to remove several of them before they get to fire, and finally I kept my B-Wings in the middle so I can either split them to support the left or right or focus them in one direction if needed since my opponent didn’t set up his forces in the middle.

On the zone to my right, Red Squadron’s initial joust failed to remove any TIE off the board, even with Horton’s TLT support, with the retaliating volley dealing Garven a Damaged Cockpit putting him at zero so that his token synergy with Luke would no longer work. Wes got Snap Shotted taking significant amounts of damage before getting nuked alongside Garven in the next round of jousting, Wedge and Luke survived but couldn’t recoup the lost points. Horton had a lot of staying power with Chopper chucking useless upgrades to recover shields, but it ended up eating his action and reduced the consistency of my TLT shots significantly.

Parakitor committed five TIEs towards Jake and Tycho which ended up being too much for Jake to handle. Both volleys of Proton Rockets that my A-Wing aces were armed with failed to do any significant damage, which the goal was to erase at least one ship for each set of Procks. The crowded airspace (or would it be spacespace?) set a prime opportunity for Jake to get Snap Shotted, bumped, and promptly annihilated. Tycho stayed around to keep playing as a distraction for his committed force, but even he suffered from being Snap Shotted down to 1 hull.

As for my B-Wings, I ended up splitting the pair up from their initial deployment in the middle zone: one to support Jake and Tycho, which got destroyed by the swarm of TIEs, and one to flank the joust, which took way too long to get any relevant shots to remove ships from the table. I invested heavily into them but they ended up being too slow to get anywhere in time to support my forces, but that was mainly my fault of poor deployment than the ships and their setups themselves.

Overall, my Rebels lost to his Imperials at about a 60-65 point difference (Imps destroyed ~150 and Rebs destroyed ~90).  

In hindsight, @Parakitor brought a formidable list to the table and I was ill-prepared to play Rebels in the E:FS format. 13 TIEs is no joke, especially when they are armed with Snap Shot in addition to their abilities to add dice (Scourge, Mauler, Pure Sabacc). I also learned that Strikers are excellent ships in the Epic format since they end up covering more table than I had expected. Tactically, I felt like trying to PS kill the enemy would be more effective than body counts, which is why I took almost all aces in lieu of a greater number of generics, when statistically, meeting the enemy ship-to-ship, dice-to-dice would’ve given me a better chance than investing more points in aces.

I also would not have engaged in the joust the way I did. After seeing his forces move into the right side of the table’s firing lanes, I should’ve broken off Red Squadron and forced the TIE’s to engage in the middle zone of the battlefield. This would’ve given me the advantage of time and terrain. Had I broken off into a hard left at the beginning and forced his force to fly around the Raider obstacle to meet me, it would’ve filed his forces into a thinner line than the spread out firing lines we established. The mid section was also more crowded with asteroids and debris, which would’ve been detrimental to his superior numbers and potentially given me more cover to my lower-agility ships. I also would’ve paired the B-Wings with Jake and Tycho as a force of their own for the engagement on the left side of the table so that Jake and Tycho could fire their volley of rockets and the B-Wings can cleanup and/or engage other targets while Jake and Tycho come back for another pass.

I had a lot of fun and feel like the changes made Epic: Fighter Squadrons much more unique, challenging, and enjoyable.

 

TL;DR recap of the post:

-We changed the rules for obstacles that require each player to bring 3 asteroids/debris and 1 Huge ship.

-I'm considering making this change a permanent one for the Epic: Fighter Squadrons format. A finalized E:FS topic will be created once I have more data and spend a few more months hashing things out.

-The Huge ships as obstacles make the game unique and challenging in a way that strategies have to be more keen to adaptation over advantages in numbers.

-I lost horribly and reflected upon the match.

Cheers,

Nick

 

 

Edited by SpikeSpiegel

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The CR90 theater of battle:

39118037145_b765d3f930.jpg

The Imperial Raider theater of battle:

28237142729_7dc0a6d129.jpg

I thought I was doomed. I figured with so many of his ships shooting first in the Raider theater, that I'd lose something before it got to shoot. I felt much more confident about the CR90 theater...until I started messing up my maneuvers! I messed up so many maneuvers this game, I told SpikeSpiegel that if I won, I would feel awful - I didn't deserve it. We called it before many ships were dead, so even though I "won," I still feel like he had a chance.

Overall thoughts:

It is a long format. It took me only 15 minutes to set up, and we started setting the battlefield at 8 PM. By 11 PM, I had lost only 4 of my 15 fighters, and he had lost 4 of his 9 fighters. If the game didn't start picking up speed, we would have been there for another three hours (more likely two). I think that's my biggest concern with this format. I wish there were some way to shorten the match, but when there are 24 dials to set, and ships to maneuver, it does take time. I thought about maybe using only 200 points, but I think that would be better suited to a 3'x4', which is a pretty awkward size to play on (having tried it in the CR90 "Point of No Return" campaign). Maybe it just takes more practice, because there were a lot of rounds that I agonized over my dials...and ended up royally messing up my maneuvers anyway.

HOWEVER, despite the actual length of the game, it didn't feel that long at all. SpikeSpiegel said, "It's getting late, so I'm willing to stop and count points after the next round." I looked at my watch and was floored that we had been playing for that long. It was so fun that I had no sense of time. I was absorbed in the life-and-death struggles of my pilots. Definitely a fun format to play, and I'm looking forward to playing it more.

Final thought: 4 TIE strikers isn't enough. Every other TIE feels so boring in comparison. Need. More. Strikers.

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On 1/31/2018 at 4:56 PM, SpikeSpiegel said:

P L A Y T E S T I N G  U P D A T E :

 

Last Friday (1/26) I was able to get a game of E:FS in with @Parakitor and the format testing turned out well! 

TL;DR recap of the post:

-We changed the rules for obstacles that require each player to bring 3 asteroids/debris and 1 Huge ship.

-I'm considering making this change a permanent one for the Epic: Fighter Squadrons format. A finalized E:FS topic will be created once I have more data and spend a few more months hashing things out.

-The Huge ships as obstacles make the game unique and challenging in a way that strategies have to be more keen to adaptation over advantages in numbers.

-I lost horribly and reflected upon the match.

Cheers,

Nick

 

 

On 2/1/2018 at 1:18 AM, Parakitor said:

...

HOWEVER, despite the actual length of the game, it didn't feel that long at all. SpikeSpiegel said, "It's getting late, so I'm willing to stop and count points after the next round." I looked at my watch and was floored that we had been playing for that long. It was so fun that I had no sense of time. I was absorbed in the life-and-death struggles of my pilots. Definitely a fun format to play, and I'm looking forward to playing it more.

Final thought: 4 TIE strikers isn't enough. Every other TIE feels so boring in comparison. Need. More. Strikers.

I love using classic X-Wings in Epic, but this and other threads are making me think T-70s are the way to go.  Like the Striker, they can be fast enough to get to the right places and 6HP is quite a bit to chew through.

Love the Epic ships as obstacles, both for game play and making the mat look "epic."

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