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Kaptin Krunch

Card games, player skill, and balance- Will the developers keep their promise?

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Yeah, it does feel like FFG grossly underestimated how much moving from I4 to I5 should cost. It's also a bit frustating that they were a bit haphazard with curtailing dice mods. Hopefully the upcoming changes take steps to correct this, but I'm not sure FFG is ready for the drastic changes it looks like the game needs.

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Krunch, you make some great points. It's just an assumption but one might figure FFG wants named pilots on the board more than generics from a design standpoint. Gives the game some identity to say "Drea Renthal is attacking" instead of "Syndicate Thug #2." Threatening that design intent would be spam lists of swarm generics that could mow down aces with ease. FFG would rather recognize Boba Fett-Fenn Rau-Old Teroch as a winning world's list then Bounty Hunter and 2 Skull Squadron pilots. Some Disney marketing exec would probably laugh the design team out if the room if they were told that their licensed Golden Goose had a winning list at the big tournament of a bunch of literal no names. 

Ace Wing will never go away. It's an intrinsic part of the game. The sheer volume and compression of unique pilots at I5 tells me that's where they have decided most of the game should be played at. But the bidding aspect for player order, and maybe even the design of Player Order itself, create an imbalance in emphasizing no skill game state knowledge as the most beneficial way to play. 

If bids no longer determine player order, all 200 points get used. If all 200 points get used, unique pilots get loaded up with upgrades for fear of missing out. That means those pilots cost more and are worth more at half point threshold and when destroyed. That means bringing more guns to the fight to focus fire them down. That means more generics to fill out lists for ship count and diminishing returns should those aces destroy a generic in the alpha. Boom, generic value to a list has been enhanced. Maybe not a lot, but enough to warrant more attention when making a list. 

But probably for the reasons above regarding marketing the game, it isn't going to change. Points will be tweaked. But not for all pilots of a particular Initiative level. The demise of the primary weapon as the core threat in the game so early on is concerning but then you have to remember that's really only in Extended. Hyperspace is different. It's a more balanced game. Generics seems to be better placed there. Just my opinion. 

 

I'm excited to give this a year to shake out and learn it. New ground has been gained. To be honest, I'm most worried about Jedi and the Force mechanic breaking the game long term. We're going to be sick of the Free Mod faction probably by end of the year. 

Edited by Cloaker

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I am always okay with threads like this. Thanks for your great write-up. Most players of x-wing, including myself, want the game to be as interesting as possible. The prime way to make this game more interesting is to have more of the available pilots competitively viable. This is why a primary topic of this forum is game balance. With 2e, FFG now has the app, and they better use it wisely to adjust point values. I hope they hear loud and clear that making only 1 pilot for a ship viable is not good enough. Also, them PURPOSELY nerfing Lancers and Jumpmasters into unplayablity is despicable.

Festivus is over, but the internet is made for the airing of grievances

  • most I5 pilots are severely undercosted (Tali at 35 points is obviously guilty)(probably the biggest balance problem)
  • more than half of generic pilots aren't even balanced against the other generic pilots let alone named ones
  • problematic upgrades like usual (Han gunner, trickshot)
  • undercosted: capt. Seevor, A-wings, Upsilon. While the poor silencer is overcosted
  • Hyperspace doubles down on the problem. When half the ships are not competitive, that means any given faction only has 2 ship options to make a list with. Boring!

 

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There are downsides to using generics that have nothing to do with cost, and I suggest that they are part of the reason why you don't see as many. Plus, I disagree on few points. To say upfront where I'm coming from: my SO has been playing 4-5 strikers since way back in 1.0, and I'm  not getting tired of praising my 5 Awings.

Here are my reasons why people won't play massed generics:

1) Playing more ships looks harder to do, even if that's not true.

2) You need too many to mass them. (E: I mean buying them). And a combination of many different ships to avoid massing (e:buying) the same ship is simply harder to do. 

Together, these might be enough to prevent people from trying. Who in their right mind buys 5 Awings and gives it a try?

3) Massed generics have a lower skill floor. That requires players to invest a lot of time and effort into something that might not even pay off.

This on top means that even if someone did buy 5 Awings or 5 Strikers, they won't see any good results for many games. It's a point I won't stop emphasizing because so many players are used to the super high skill floors of combowing and want to see immediate results. Generics (usually) won't give you that.

4) Nobody is leading the way. You need a good reason to buy massed generics and put them on the table for many games only to find out that the skill ceiling for this particular ship is, unfortunately, quite low e: in the worst case! Strikers and IMO Awings have a quite high ceiling, and they definitely get past the floor of many, many lists. But you could also swarm the wrong ship with a low ceiling that nobody knew about.

However, everyone and their mother is playing the squad of legend. Players know that it works, they see it all the time on stream. I see it as huge improvement that the average squad size has changed so much already. Making the jump to actual swarms takes time. And I see 5 ships as miniswarm.

I fully agree that the point progression can't be right as it is now.

Edited by GreenDragoon
Clarification, marked with e:

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It is also aggrevated by the fact that FFG still almost always puts the best pilot abilities on the highest Ini.

The game would be much more fun, if you had to decide 

go either for aces I5-6, but then bland or actually no special pilot ability,

or go aces I3-4 having some very cool pilot abilities

or go generics.

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Since 1.0 they've made high Initiative matter more and reduced the cost to put it on the table.  Either they're lying to you to make you buy their game or they're incredibly incompetent.

I'd urge you to pay little attention to what come out of their mouths and more attention to the actions they actually take.

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2 hours ago, Managarmr said:

It is also aggrevated by the fact that FFG still almost always puts the best pilot abilities on the highest Ini.

The game would be much more fun, if you had to decide 

go either for aces I5-6, but then bland or actually no special pilot ability,

or go aces I3-4 having some very cool pilot abilities

or go generics.

One observation - which will be interesting since they're 1/4 of the Imperial options for Hyperspace events - is that the TIE/sk is exactly that.

  • Generic Planetary Sentinel strikers are 34 points (I think the 4 point jump to Black Squadron Scouts is too much, but I'm not sure what I'd prefer them to be)
  • Duchess is essentially paying entirely for her initiative of 5 - her pilot ability is okay but essentially pairs with her initiative by turning adaptive ailerons into a sort of speed-free afterburners. High initiative repositioning is cool and all but that's basically the only trick she's got.  
  • Pure Sabbac and Countdown have really, really good abilities (if your local area is fixated on flinging I5 and I6 lock-and-force or lock-and-focus torpedoes then Countdown's ability to make one of them just go away for a single point of damage is truly superb) but are only I4 and actually cost more than Duchess because they have much better abilities
Edited by Magnus Grendel

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It seems a lot of the problems come down to the Proton Torpedo Alpha Strike. Maybe that can be changed by just altering the Target Lock action time frame: you do the action, but only acquire the lock (red Token) in the endphase. That would also buff instinctive aim, E-Wings, Tarkin.., Redline would still be a problem, but he should be changed to „bonus lock action“ anyway.

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Proton Torps are a very specific problem but absolutely contributes to the high-I meta in a big way.

But also the rampant addition of reposition to ships that didn't previously have it has contributed as well.  Everything has some arc-dodging ability, everything wants to know where you are before it takes its actions.  Then there's strong bullseye arc effects that need Initiative as well, and turrets with rotate arc actions.

And then you get that Wedge costs 52 when he should be more like 62.  And kiss your generics goodbye.

Edited by SOTL

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I'm gonna post some of the top lists (pre-cut? who knows, it doesn't matter) from Aussie Nats. As a random thought exercise, look at each ship, and ask yourself what points threshold would need to exist to drop those ships to a naked (allowing configs, I guess) generic.

Some lists are designed around abilities and that's okay. If every list is, though, that's a card game. So it's just food for thought.

ex:

Jan Ors + Trick Shot + Moldy Crow 
Wedge Antilles + Trick Shot + Servomotor S-foils 
Luke Skywalker + Servomotor S-foils 
AP-5 

Nobody's trading that Jan for a naked generic for anything less than a massive points gap. She's there almost entirely for her text, and the text of Moldy Crow. (And Trick Shot is undercosted, so it gets tossed on too). A Titled Generic, more easily, but the naked one is a tough sell and Jan's text is a centerpiece here.

Wedge could become a generic at a certain point, probably, but his initiative and efficiency are his selling point. Luke could, too, although he's dramatically more resilient - Supernatural makes him move completely different from a generic, but he doesn't have that here. There's a reason neither is one of the cheaper I3/4 pilots in this list.

AP-5 has a useful ability but his platform lacks a generic, so it's whatever.

So, we can kind of imagine Jan, two Red Squadron Vets, and AP-5. It's a lot harder to imagine replacing Jan with a generic. HWK/X/X/Sheathe with pure generics actually doesn't sound terrible, but the words and initiative add so, so much efficiency here.

Some more:

4x Sigma Squadron Ace + Juke 

"Whisper" + Juke + Darth Vader 
"Redline" + Advanced Sensors + Proton Torpedoes 
Soontir Fel + Predator 

Colonel Jendon + Admiral Sloane + Hull Upgrade 
Gamma Squadron Ace + Proton Torpedoes 
Gamma Squadron Ace + Proton Torpedoes 
Gamma Squadron Ace + Proton Torpedoes 
Academy Pilot 

Boba Fett + IG-88D + Marauder + Han Solo 
4-LOM + Advanced Sensors 
Palob Godalhi + Moldy Crow 

Roark Garnet + Squad Leader + Tactical Officer + Moldy Crow 
Dash Rendar + Trick Shot + Han Solo + Perceptive Copilot + Outrider

How many points would you pay to take these lists, over the same ships but running naked generics? Most of the time, I bet it's a lot more than they actually cost.

Edited by svelok
pre-coffee typographical errors

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HWK/XXX/AP-5 is 197pts for five ships - you get a whole free X-Wing for trading down to generics.

And it would be rubbish vs Wedge/Luke.  You'd lose an X-Wing before it could fire.  

Edited by SOTL

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6 hours ago, Managarmr said:

It is also aggrevated by the fact that FFG still almost always puts the best pilot abilities on the highest Ini.

The game would be much more fun, if you had to decide 

go either for aces I5-6, but then bland or actually no special pilot ability,

or go aces I3-4 having some very cool pilot abilities

or go generics.

I somewhat disagree with these, they are many low (less than 5) initiative pilots with great abilities, that still do not see playtime, a quick list improvised:

Pilots with great abilities held back by Initiative:

Garven Dreis (Xwing, Arc): not seen without Swarm tactics
Dutch Vander (Ywing): sees some playtime, bot mostly replaced by norra (I5) or another (Xwing)
Jake Farrell (Awing): all a wings pay too much for what they bring to the table. Just see the resistance version.
Jek Porkins, Kullbee Sperado, Leevan Tenza (Xwing): all this pilots abilities would be great in a high initiative pilots.
Captain Rex (Tie\ln): This guys saw playtime in 1.0, now 32 points for a I2 2 dice attack ship is not worth it.

Ved Foslo (Tie advanced x1): Old Juno, has a strong maneuver correction ability that is not very usefull at I4
Countess Ryad and Colonel Vessery (Tie Defened): there is a good reason this guys are not high initiative, they would have no counter play.
Turr Phennir (Tie Interceptor): I shoot and I'm gone, sounds nice? Unless you have already shoot, then is pretty meh.
Mayor Rhymer (Tie Bomber): Ad. Protons at range 2?

Graz (Kihraxz): position dependent ability in a  I4.

Zari Bangel, Greer Sonnel (Awing rz2): both of these guys have better abilities than Tali, but the lower I keeps them in the dark.
Kara Kun, Temmin Wexley (t70 xwing): these guys are in thought position, as their higher initiative friends (Nien and Ello) also have bvery strong movement abilities.

On the other hands, there are some high Initiative pilots with very lackluster skills.

 

 

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37 minutes ago, SOTL said:

HWK/XXX/AP-5 is 197pts for five ships - you get a whole free X-Wing for trading down to generics.

And it would be rubbish vs Wedge/Luke.  You'd lose an X-Wing before it could fire.  

HWK/XXX/Sheathe rolls 13 attack dice. Moldy Jan/XX/Sheathe rolls 12. Upgrading a naked generic to Moldy Jan is 22 points and adds 2/3 the red dice of an entire extra 41 point 3-dice ship, before even accounting for Jan's focus stack.

This list is a good example, I think, because it's very upgrade light. Just Moldy and two copies of Trick Shot.

This list crumbles if Jan, Moldy, Luke, and Wedge go up by one point each. Even then, dropping Wedge for Thane and removing both Trick Shots, would be 4 more points anywhere away from retirement. That's not an earthshaking change - 7/8 total points shifted - but suddenly the list becomes a version HWK/XXX/Sh can probably compete with.

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16 minutes ago, svelok said:

HWK/XXX/Sheathe rolls 13 attack dice. Moldy Jan/XX/Sheathe rolls 12. Upgrading a naked generic to Moldy Jan is 22 points and adds 2/3 the red dice of an entire extra 41 point 3-dice ship, before even accounting for Jan's focus stack.

This list is a good example, I think, because it's very upgrade light. Just Moldy and two copies of Trick Shot.

This list crumbles if Jan, Moldy, Luke, and Wedge go up by one point each. Even then, dropping Wedge for Thane and removing both Trick Shots, would be 4 more points anywhere away from retirement. That's not an earthshaking change - 7/8 total points shifted - but suddenly the list becomes a version HWK/XXX/Sh can probably compete with.

Oh, the HWK has Moldy at 197.

And I would argue Wedge @ Luke could go up by as much as 10pts EACH if you want to do things properly.

Edited by SOTL

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12 hours ago, Kaptin Krunch said:

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Right now at least Generics seem useful in these categories:

  • Control/Support Swarms - Drea & Sloane, Howl/Iden
    • In Hyperspace, Essentially limited to Tie Swarm
  • Ordinance Swarms - Anything that mitigates the high init TL advantage
    • Doesn't exist in Hyperspace outside of Synched missile swarms?
  • Ace Mini Swarms - Where the main role is to distract/joust and get an Ace to the end game
    • Usually can just be fewer Generics and more Aces
  • Mixed Init Lists - List that fit multiple archetypes or do several things ok
    • If these include a Generic or two its typically as a blocker or list-filler. 

Point balancing wise within Hyperspace I am expecting that Turrets-Ace-Wing not Generic Swarms will be used near term to counter Ace-Wing.

At least until CIS arrives and the Time of the Separatist begins.

Edited by Boom Owl

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I've found one slight glitch in the matrix....T70 generics aren't terrible.  At 3s/4h for a total of 7 health backed by 2 agility and an EPT the Red Vets are "decent".  You aren't going splat if you eat a proton torp to the face.  You aren't getting oneshot off the board if you get caught in arc of an Ooopsilon that makes the jump from hyperspace on turn 1.  The dial is open enough and backed by a boost that you can get them out of their own way.  They are very good at tanking MOV and bring enough red dice with them that stuff really doesn't want to joust you.

There is nothing fancy going on here, just a lot of health and punch on a pretty versatile chassis.

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29 minutes ago, viedit said:

I've found one slight glitch in the matrix....T70 generics aren't terrible.  At 3s/4h for a total of 7 health backed by 2 agility and an EPT the Red Vets are "decent".  You aren't going splat if you eat a proton torp to the face.  You aren't getting oneshot off the board if you get caught in arc of an Ooopsilon that makes the jump from hyperspace on turn 1.  The dial is open enough and backed by a boost that you can get them out of their own way.  They are very good at tanking MOV and bring enough red dice with them that stuff really doesn't want to joust you.

There is nothing fancy going on here, just a lot of health and punch on a pretty versatile chassis.

Fanatical on the Omega Ace F/O is good as well. I don't think 6 will beat a 7 Iden-Howl Swarm but it might have more luck against 3-4 ship lists since it lacks a linchpin for dice mods. 

 

Omega Fanatics (198)
Omega Squadron Ace — TIE/FO Fighter	31
Fanatical	2
Ship Total: 33
Half Points: 17 Threshold: 2
 	
Omega Squadron Ace — TIE/FO Fighter	31
Fanatical	2
Ship Total: 33
Half Points: 17 Threshold: 2
 	
Omega Squadron Ace — TIE/FO Fighter	31
Fanatical	2
Ship Total: 33
Half Points: 17 Threshold: 2
 	
Omega Squadron Ace — TIE/FO Fighter	31
Fanatical	2
Ship Total: 33
Half Points: 17 Threshold: 2
 	
Omega Squadron Ace — TIE/FO Fighter	31
Fanatical	2
Ship Total: 33
Half Points: 17 Threshold: 2
 	
Omega Squadron Ace — TIE/FO Fighter	31
Fanatical	2
Ship Total: 33
Half Points: 17 Threshold: 2

You can even throw Longshot in for 2 more points. Same initiative and it's not crippling if he goes down first.

Edited by impspy

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29 minutes ago, impspy said:

Fanatical on the Omega Ace F/O is good as well. I don't think 6 will beat a 7 Iden-Howl Swarm but it might have more luck against 3-4 ship lists since it lacks a linchpin for dice mods. 

Unlike the Howl swarm, the 6 /fo swarm can fly all over the place and not worry about formation. (Or, just be two groups of 3, or 3 groups of 2, if you're lazy and don't want to think about that many dials.)

Maybe the TIEs are still the more frequent winner of the matchup, but it does have that strength it can leverage.

43 minutes ago, Boom Owl said:

Right now at least Generics seem useful in these categories:

  • Control/Support Swarms - Drea & Sloane, Howl/Iden
    • In Hyperspace, Essentially limited to Tie Swarm
  • Ordinance Swarms - Anything that mitigates the high init TL advantage
    • Doesn't exist in Hyperspace outside of Synched missile swarms?
  • Ace Mini Swarms - Where the main role is to distract/joust and get an Ace to the end game
    • Usually can just be fewer Generics and more Aces
  • Mixed Init Lists - List that fit multiple archetypes or do several things ok
    • If these include a Generic or two its typically as a blocker or list-filler. 

Not sure where B-Wings fit into this - like the BBBB list at PAX - but otherwise, looks about complete. That and 4x Juke Sigmas are about the only other generics that show up anywhere near the top of any major tournaments so far, at a glance, outside these categories. (I see you, Juke/Vader/Collision Whisper, tucked in with all those generic TIE Fighters.)

 

43 minutes ago, Boom Owl said:

Point balancing wise within Hyperspace I am expecting that Turrets-Ace-Wing not Generic Swarms will be used near term to counter Ace-Wing.

This has been my experience under current points. The Rebel Falcon is tough for Boba+Fenn to wittle down, especially in a lategame 1v1-ish scenario, and it can deal out serious damage - Fenn can only arc dodge it to a certain extent, and Boba takes damage from its shots (focused Boba rerolling 2 dice at range 1 isn't enough to block focused Han rerolling 4 dice at range 1, especially since Boba can't get his Debris Gambit or 0-0-0/IG-88D extra mods.)

But like everything else, it's been I5 Lando and (mostly) I6 Han, not the generic or Chewbacca, pulling that workload.

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32 minutes ago, viedit said:

4x Crack Red vets vs that would be a very interesting match to play if the players were of similar skill set.  

Would this be better than 4 of the named T65 pilots though? Or 3 named T70s plus Lulo? The relative lack of Init vs a bit more health still doesn't favour the RSVs.

Wedge, Thane, Garven and Porkins with a few points for upgrades fits and can hold its own in extended. One of the reasons top players wouldn't fly them is the way it bleeds MoV since losing half points on each ship is far too easy.

Jess Pava, Lt Bastian, Snap Wexley with Composure, and Lulo with Heroic and Trickshot also has a couple of points left.

Overall, the named pilots are still better than the generics in terms of points in almost all cases.

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