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Darth Veggie

"Inviting players to deploy higher-point fleets"

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When the SSD was announced, what made me most excited was not the miniature itself. It was the prospect of finally getting Epic play in Armada. However, since the announcement we have heard close to nothing about specific rules for higher-point fleets.

In the leak that was revealed on reddit, there was this short phrase "inviting players to deploy higher-point fleets" - and that is close to being the only official statement we have concerning Epic play. I really hope that this does not mean that they want us to experiment ourselves with higher-point fleets without providing official ruling for the new toys they sell to us for 200 bucks. But what options are there?

First, it is important to consider that the activation mechanincs of Armada have a strong first player bias. In standard games this bias is (supposed to be) countered by the second player bias of the objectives. However, the objectives are (kind of) balanced for 400 pt games. For example, the 75 points you get for an Intel Sweep is great in standard play, but in a 1500 point game it is negligilbe. To be honest, also the first player advantage is mitigated in higher-point fleet games, because usually there are several scenes of action on the board, but even first player let you only activate in one of those scenes first - of course you can still pick the most important one.

So, what options do we have for Epic play:

  • Changing first player: It is already in the core box. As an alternative rule you can drop the objective play and alternate the first player advantage. Hence, one player will be first player in game round 1, 3, and 5, whereas the other player will be first in round 2, 4, and 6. To be frank, I don't like this solution. First, objective play is one of the aspects of the game that immensly contributes to its variation. Partly because of objectives, every match in Armada is unique. Dropping it makes it a bit more repetitive. Second, allthough it seems fair to alternate first player, it is not. As everybody who has played the game a lot knows, in average it is great to have the last activaten in game round 2, and the first one in game round 3. And exactly this bias is created by the alternating first player mechanism. Allthough you can try to postpone the bloodshed to game round 4 in a standard game (or even later), this will be a lot more difficult as soon as more plastic is on the gaming table. Hence, I fear this is no proper solution for epic play.
  • All-Out-Offensive from CC: The Corellian Conflict Campaign provided us with the All-Out-Offensive scenario rules for 1000 or even 1500 points fleet. So, we can take these for Epic play, right? No, I fear that is not a sensible way either. If you pay attention to your all-out-offensives in CC or even to the context rules, you immediately discover that they as well have a strong bias. But this time it is a second player bias. Why is that? Those rules enable the second player to bring in his reinforcements AFTER the first player. And you can bring them in anywhere close to your victory markers, not only in your deployment zone. As everybody knows who has played Raddus or against him a lot, the option to deploy against your enemy AFTER he has deployed and doing so across the entire board is huge. And of course the CC rules need a second player bias: The All-Out-Offensive happen when one side declares it.This side is first player. What motivation does one side have considering it? Because the other side is ahead in campaign points and therefore close to win the game. Declaring the All-Out-Offensive is meant to be an act of desparation, not an option of Epic play outside the CC context. Oh, and only having one epic play scenario would also mean less variation like in the alternating first player scenario.
  • Rebalancing Objectives (assuming they already are balanced): A lot of objectives have numbers associated with them (like the 75 points for Intel Sweep). A way to address the problem is to multiply these numbers (or some of them) when using higher-point fleets. To be honest, I think this solution works! It needs to keep in mind that first player advantage is still mitigated by higher-point fleets. Therefore it is no simple multiplier like: 3 times bigger fleets means 3 times the points; but a neat table might do the job. However, this seems to me to be a bit to clunky for FFG - whereas I like clunky, if it is good clunky! ;-P
  • New Objectives: Again, that would be great, but I consider it unlikely, if Epic play does not get fixed fleed points (like, let us say 1000), because otherwise you need to scale the new objectives again or you need to create objectives that need no scaling (like Solar Corona or Superior Positions).
  • New Campaign: That would be great! It would be so great that I don't believe it to happen. Because if FFG had planned something that great they would already have told us...

Thoughts?

 

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The point of rebalancing is the best in my eyes, too. At least for objectives with fixed points (like 40 for each station) as they can easily be calculated.

But with a specific number of points for special circumstances (e.g. every time a squad does damage at the rear-section) this would overshoot your goal as you can bring an enormous amount of squads and get relatively more points by that as well.

Therefore I would categorise every objective that gives points by that. Got me? M still pretty sick and my english sucks right now. ūüėē

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30 minutes ago, ISD Avenger said:

Could you not scale objective points pro rata? Intel sweep is 75 points in 400 game. It’s worth 150 in 800 point game etc etc.

This would neglect that first player advantage decreases with more points. 

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I've played quite a few 800 point games and the objectives I think are all fine at this level. I don't think you need to redesign the missions or make contested outpost into 30 points a turn for example. Missions like Superior positions will probably involve more bombers to attack rear hull zones and more rear hull zones per side increasing target selection.

At much larger point values like 1500 or 2000 the advantage of first player diminishes as there are more likely to be several areas of intense combat and you only get to activate one ship at a time which is a smaller proportion of your fleet compared to at the 400 point level. If this changes the balance of first player to second player then so what? Players can just increase or decrease their bids accordingly to get their preferred initiative. We may more often see people bidding to go second rather than first - but as both sides are free to choose their own bid, it will all even out.

We did increase to a 6x4 foot table but still place the deployment zones the same distances from each other as on a 6x3. So each player has a 6" deep zone behind his deployment area that cannot be used until turn 1 begins. This keeps units the same distance apart and stops you needing to add a 7th or 8th turn to take into account the further distances to cover but also gives a bit extra space to overrun into after a battle pass. In Blockade run it is just a slightly wider table.

Oh yes and watch out for Tarkin/Sovereign and Garm as commanders. They really start to shine at larger point levels. Garm giving 50+ tokens to a fleet is roughly a tooled up ISD-II's worth of points if you had to buy it all with veteran captains.;)

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I like the idea of adjusting victory points from objectives as the game size scales. As Mad Cat mentioned, they do well up to about 800 points, but after they might need better scaling.

Also, I can confirm that Garm is amazing at high-point games. I did a game where each player built 1500 point fleets with 2 commanders each. I had pre-nerf Rieekan and Garm. It was nuts! It also hurt to play against a Vader / Motti fleet.

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The more I think about it, the less viable seem standard objective matches to me for epic play. And the more I can appreciate what great job FFG has done in designing the all out offensive. 

The problem is not only that points of some objectives (like contested outpost) become more and more negligible in higher point games. They make also less sense. Consider two 1500 point fleets trying to get the victory tokens of the contested outpost. Even if you adjust points, it is reduced to pure luck who has more ships in range 1 of it. Or take Most Wanted. It is impossible for the objective ship to outmaneuver a 1500 point fleet and avoid destruction. You could simply give the points to the 2nd player and drop the objective. 

But even apart from objective play there are further problems. Armada is about deployment and maneuvering. In a good standard game fleet action makes use of the 6x3 board exactly by avoiding parts of it. Sometimes you try to circle an enemy fleet. Sometimes you try to jump through it. In epic play, the insane amount of plastic on the table makes this an aspect of the game that can less and less be used. Because of that CC has the reinforcement rules that allow for this aspect still to exist (and also speeds up the game, because less plastic is in the board right from the beginning). 

Yesterday, when I couldn't sleep, because a cold plagued me, I had an idea that solves a lot of the problems that I mentioned ūüôā

The basic idea is to combine the rules of the all out offensive with the rule of alternating the first player and thereby evening out the biases of both:

- The setup, deployment, reinforcement, and 7 rounds rules of the all out offensive are used. 

- First player alternates every game round. 

- When bringing in reinforcements, a player can deploy up to three ships and six squadrons. Who is in a game round first player has to bring in reinforcements first this game round.

- Pryce and Bail are not legit. 

The bias of the advantage of being second player in round 2 and first in round 3 is mitigated by the fact that the second player of round 1 has an additional reinforcement spawning token and that in round 3 he can deploy after the first player. The second player bias of the all out offensive is mitigated by the alternating nature of the second player. 

The only drawback is that the variety of the objective game is lost. However, I also have an idea how to bring that back. Maybe I find the time on Monday to post it here. 

 

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7 hours ago, Grumbleduke said:

Also worth remembering that First-Second player is important for breaking ties, and to some extent that and Objectives are important to stop players turtleing in the corner.

Very true, but in larger engagements, It's very difficult to hide in a corner.

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Did the objectives get rebalanced when the ‚Äústandard‚ÄĚ game size increased by 34% with¬†the ISD release?

 

At this point, we are free to play at any points level we want to.  Try it and see for yourself.

Edited by n815e

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4 hours ago, n815e said:

Did the objectives get rebalanced when the ‚Äústandard‚ÄĚ game size increased by 34% with¬†the ISD release?

 

At this point, we are free to play at any points level we want to.  Try it and see for yourself.

That was announced right from the beginning, so objectives was balanced for 400 points even while playing with 300.

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Depends a bit who you ask about what objective... ;)

The use of objectives shifted a lot after the turn which indicates a better/worse efficiency with different point numbers.

Plus that was for a well predictable time span without too many (official) tournaments.

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12 hours ago, n815e said:

So the objectives worked fine with a 25% point deficiency.

The point still stands.

How many only worked at 300 because there were no large ships or flotillas? Most wanted and Advanced Gunnery becomes lopsided at 300 when you can bring Ackbar Home Ones or Vader ISDs . Other objectives probably get messed up with large bases or flotillas at 300, but those were the first two that come to mind. Players forget that a lot of things didn’t exist when it was only 300. 

 

The game was balanced at 400, including all ships and objectives. My personal experiences have shown that the game balance starts getting worse at 450+ unless both players are knowingly not bringing optimized fleets.

 

Any enjoyable play people get outside of the 400 point fleet size is a win. But it is not good for any real standard competitive format  

 

 

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I could see team based play becoming more competitive if they released some team objectives. Examples would be the objective with two stations, or maybe an objective like blockade run. Something where one player on the attacker team can focus on one aspect, and the other doing another thing, as an example. Then I could see a larger point format becoming really big, but then you run into other team play based issues.

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