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Data and Discussion: For balance implement a Large-ship-half-scoring rule in Task Force 200pt?

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Description:

This is a balance thread with a purpose and rules. It will also hopefully be a balance thread that is based a high amount around data. Requests for how to discuss opinions based on data will be described below. If you do not have interest in Task Force or smaller point games, that's ok! But this is not the thread for you to be expressing strong balance opinions, nor is it relevant to declare how much you may either hate smaller point games or love larger point games exclusively. Therefore please post relevantly and knowledgeably, be empathetic, be Good Friday peeps. 

The goal is to increase the possibilities of thorough diversity in gameplay options. The research for this type of balancing exists, go look it up/educate yourself, its not classtime. Here, thorough diversity is also meant to be as diverse as possible, therefore as an example, no squadron lists, max squadron lists, some squadron, all small ships, one big ship, two mediums lists should be near equally viable to win. If you want to run something and it is a strong list, a stratified meta predisposed to a certain type of list composition should not reduce the viability significantly nor increase the difficulty of winning significantly more than that meta list. 

Proposal:

Does Task Force - 3x3, 200pt, Keep-Larger-Half(KLH)-guidelined/Objectives - require a Large-ship-lower-than-half-hull-scoring rule? 

The rule doesn't affect game mechanics, however during end-game scoring, a Large-Ship that ends the game at equal to or less than half its hull is scored for that Large ship plus all of its upgrades. (A la 1/2 normal scoring, a la 1.0 Xwing Large ship rule). Technically, this is doing much more damage than half the Large Ship, as the shields are not considered. 

[Rephrased: At the end of the game/turn6, if a large ship has equal to or more than half its hull value in damage cards, the opposing player adds the larger half of that ship's total value including upgrades to their score during calculating points scored. This step occurs before calculating MOV score in a tournament setting. 

Or in other words, if your large ship has equal to or less than half its hull left at the end of the game, your opponent adds half of its value to their score. ]

This added house rule can also be considered a temporary metagame balancing reaction, to be officialized as part of the format for either a set duration of time or when it seems the meta/game has updated in a way that the rule is no longer required for extra balancing. 

Reasons for the change:

I'm going to start this out with an important con, because its an inherent character trait for the Task Force format I wish to keep: The lack of or bare minimum manipulation or changing or adding of house rules to the base game of 400pt standard Armada. Changes generally conform to the KLH guideline. At this time, no house rules are in the format. This keeps the format honest, simple, and without proactive bias. (I will not deny that the 200pt format does cause some changes in the metagame, as evidenced by the call for this testing) 

During my table testing, it seems that the 200pt format exacerbates the power of the first Large ship that is added to a fleet. I posit that this is a phenomena exists to a staggering degree in standard 400pt Armada, but is mitigated somewhat in standard by the larger point values. In 200pt, it seems that a Large ship creates a execution-difficulty increase for the non-large ship lists in that a win generally must be either a full-on takedown of the large ship or a highly loss-less frugal game. Not only that, but generally the 1 Large-ship  list (maybe + squadrons) is a much easier list to run. 
[I'm open here to discussing whether the gathered Regionals/tournaments data shows this trend in standard Armada but it should be a data-based discussion]

I will discuss here how it would be best to discuss this with data. It would be preferable if you actually try 3 real life table games of Task Force, trying the most extreme examples you can, swapping lists, playing against the most equally-skilled opponent you can. Even as the format creator, I've found that my understanding of the format has been updated by actually playing through whole games many times. What may be common assumptions are actually not usually as true as one may think them to be. 

I have played around 3-4 games of this match up and found that one side is much easier to play and much easier to win than the other: 

List 1: Motti CymoonISD/SFO + 3 Firesprays + 1 Tie (66/67pt squads) 199pts 

List 2: Yavaris-max-aces Rieekan/Dodonna/Variations of Yavaris 1-2 Transports + multirole bomber/fighters (Also, Imperial based max squads) 

List 3: 3-4 small ship variations:  ex. 3-4 Hammerheads, 3 Raiders

Even including variations of objectives, slow playing, rush playing, it seems that List 1 generally has a much better chance of winning simply due to having a very hard to kill ISD. The smaller list generally has to bum-rush the ISD dead or kill off the other players squadrons while losing very few of anything at all of their own. 

List 1 can slow play, fast play, 5 turn wait 6th turn snipe a smaller unit/squads and is generally able to get either the full brunt of the ISD or the squads onto something smaller, take a score, while avoiding losing the ISD and win on scoring. Smaller ship lists generally have to make very convoluted decisions on how to avoid the ISD AND the squads. Small ships generally get eaten alive by the squad force. Squad vs squad is generally a toss up, and then the ISD either contributes flak or eats a small ship. 
List 1 seems to work pretty well when they keep their fighter ball covered (together) and/or within the flak range of the ISD. 
List 2, even with advanced techniques like flotilla bumping/suicide or very good dodging, can't really get enough of a presence to play an equal game. 

Note, generally a multi-role style list like 1 Large + max rogue fighter/bombers is considered a very good matchup/counter to Yavaris/small ship based max squad multi-role-squads list. However in this case also, it illuminates how much easier it is for the two squads lists to bully no squad lists like 3-4 MSU. 

Other players have noted a similar issues in the ease of a Large ship centered list in Task Force, (read around page 7-8 in the main thread). 

I've also introduced the game to new players using this List 1 and have found that they can easily beat experienced players without nearly knowing anything about the game whatsoever. Generally, this indicates too much inevitability and ease of play for a certain list. 

Basically, surprisingly, post-nerf and post-wave5/6 Large ship centered lists + squadrons to flexibilitize striking potential seem to be miles more powerful than 200pt versions of things that should also be good: like Rieekan/Dodonna Yavaris aces. 

----

What are your thoughts, based on 3+ Task Force game-data? 

When providing commentary, please also provide information on the 3+ games you've played. 

Does this seem like a balancing need for Task Force tournaments?

Feel free to test using the List examples I've provided.  

Edited by Blail Blerg
added a rephrase

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Counterdiscussion: 

What exactly should the rule be? Should it count shields in some way? Should there be an in-game reduction of power to a damaged Large ship? Should medium ships be affected? 

Alternatives to a perceived weakness of max-squad centered fleets - 
Raising the points to 225 - Con: This is awkward, contrived/arbitrary value and reduces the impact of the KLH Objectives. 
Raising the squad limit to 75 instead of 67 - Con: Again, awkward, contrived/arbitrary point value, is difficult to reach a consensus because this is based on people's perception of how powerful squads should be. There are people who believe squads should be less powerful, and there are people who believe that nearly every successful fleet should have near max squads. 

Also note: That it seems that 1 large + max squads is also much stronger than many other compositions other than smalls + flots+ max squads too, such as MSU no squads. In this case, neither of the above workarounds actually impacts the perceived-problem source. 

I am personally exceptionally against changing the values to any other contrived or arbitrary value. 200 is nice because it follows a guideline - KLH, and it keeps the same balance between killing and objectives. 

Edited by Blail Blerg

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2 hours ago, ShoutingMan said:

I suggest you more explicitly state what the proposed rule change is. I’m unfamiliar with “Large-ship-lower-half-hull-scoring rule“ and am uncertain what rule is proposed.  Thanks :) 

At the end of the game/turn6, if a large ship has equal to or more than half its hull value in damage cards, the opposing player adds the larger half of that ship's total value including upgrades to their score during calculating points scored. 

Or in other words, if your large ship has equal to or less than half its hull left at the end of the game, your opponent adds half of its value to their score. 

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I don't have numerical data, but I have some anecdotal case study.
We ran a short corellian campaign using 200pt Task Force rules (and maxing fleets at 250pts).
We had 4 teams and had to rotate a couple of fleets in and out because of people joining/leaving.
We used the task force rules to the letter, and adjusted the campaign objectives using the keep large half. 
***I'd love to have the campaign objectives added to the Task Force Rules page.*** If the graphics artist were still in the house.

I wish we had kept better notes, but we were in a hurry - therefore it will be more 'objectively impressionistic'.
These victory margins are determined by using the usual rules for MoV.

 

I will include List Type (Player Skill) - Victory Margin, Large Base Ship Condition

1. ISDII/fighters (rookie) vs MSU rebel (rookie) - slight Imp victory, ISD mildly damaged

2. ISDII/fighters (skilled newbie) vs MC30's/fighters (average) - slight Imp victory, ISD very damaged

3. DualVics (newbie) vs Yavaris/Bwings (veteran) - large rebel victory

4. DualVics (newbie) vs MC30's/fighters (average) - slight rebel victory

5. Interdictor/MMJ (veteran) squads vs Raddus Lib (veteran) - solid rebel victory, MC80L heavily damaged

6. Rebel MSU (newbie) vs Cymoon/fighters (8 year old) - Large Imp victory, Cymoon minimal damage

7. ISDII/fighters (skilled newbie) vs Raddus Lib (veteran) - solid rebel victory, minimal MC80L damage

8. I can't remember the other game

 

Side note: The "half hull = half points for large ships" rule has even more merit in the campaign because a small victory has large consequences.

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For simplicity, the rule should be extended to all units (just like in X-wing). 

So any unit with half hull should be counted 50% for points. Firespray at 3 hull = 9 points, MC80 command cruiser with Dodonna on it and nothing else has 4 damage cards on it, 106+20 / 2 = 63 points.

Makes the rule less annoying to figure out and treats all units evenly. 

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5 hours ago, Yik said:

For simplicity, the rule should be extended to all units (just like in X-wing). 

So any unit with half hull should be counted 50% for points. Firespray at 3 hull = 9 points, MC80 command cruiser with Dodonna on it and nothing else has 4 damage cards on it, 106+20 / 2 = 63 points.

Makes the rule less annoying to figure out and treats all units evenly. 

I’d love to hear your argument. Can you extrapolate? 

 

Initially I’ll say that I don’t see a need at this current point to extend the rule beyond large ships, the main issue is how long and how all-in an opponent has to go to take down a large ship. And that difficulty makes the game interaction between the large (+squads) list and the non large list a binary consideration. This is my anecdotal understanding. 

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10 hours ago, deDios said:

I don't have numerical data, but I have some anecdotal case study.
We ran a short corellian campaign using 200pt Task Force rules (and maxing fleets at 250pts).
We had 4 teams and had to rotate a couple of fleets in and out because of people joining/leaving.
We used the task force rules to the letter, and adjusted the campaign objectives using the keep large half. 
***I'd love to have the campaign objectives added to the Task Force Rules page.*** If the graphics artist were still in the house.

I wish we had kept better notes, but we were in a hurry - therefore it will be more 'objectively impressionistic'.
These victory margins are determined by using the usual rules for MoV.

 

I will include List Type (Player Skill) - Victory Margin, Large Base Ship Condition

1. ISDII/fighters (rookie) vs MSU rebel (rookie) - slight Imp victory, ISD mildly damaged

2. ISDII/fighters (skilled newbie) vs MC30's/fighters (average) - slight Imp victory, ISD very damaged

3. DualVics (newbie) vs Yavaris/Bwings (veteran) - large rebel victory

4. DualVics (newbie) vs MC30's/fighters (average) - slight rebel victory

5. Interdictor/MMJ (veteran) squads vs Raddus Lib (veteran) - solid rebel victory, MC80L heavily damaged

6. Rebel MSU (newbie) vs Cymoon/fighters (8 year old) - Large Imp victory, Cymoon minimal damage

7. ISDII/fighters (skilled newbie) vs Raddus Lib (veteran) - solid rebel victory, minimal MC80L damage

8. I can't remember the other game

 

Side note: The "half hull = half points for large ships" rule has even more merit in the campaign because a small victory has large consequences.

Thanks dedios! 

@TheBigLev, it seems like there’s a document request. :) thebiglev did the pdf. And did a wonderful job I think displaying the information. 

 

onto your anecdote. 

Thanks for giving us the anecdotal information.  This is what I meant by data. Basically, that one has table experience. 

Can you interpret your anecdotal data for us? do you have any opinions or surrounding information about your data or the proposal? 

Edited by Blail Blerg

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49 minutes ago, Tayloraj100 said:

If it helps you feel better about adding rules, consider the Large ships to be the Epic ships of Task Force scale. Kinda. What I mean is, modeling how FFG handles scoring for the SSD seems like a ligit way to go.

I'm almost certain a half rule of some sort will be added for Armada for the SSD. Thus I don't think this is such a betrayal of all the things I stood for lol. 

But I want more anecdotes and findings! 

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My subjective view on 200pt (particularly in campaign): I did feel like it would take considerably more skill to "not lose" with an MSU-ish list or even dual medium bases, than with a large base. There were lists (Yavaris B-wings) that could definitely hold their own with the large bases, but required considerably more skill and experience to build and yield.

That being said, a tournament among very skilled players might not see as big a need for different scoring rules, because of the better player ability to coordinate the entire fleet to damage a single target, better understanding of common card combinations, as well as an understanding that big ships protect your points from tiny losses when list building.

Three things happened with players that weren't very experienced (in this and other 200pt teaching sessions I've run):

1. They wanted to run lists that were not viable against a defensively built large base and had to be talked out of reasonable lists that they wanted to fly simply because they were likely to lose by 50 points to a large ship list. This was kind of a bummer for our casual newbies.

2. They faced each other with one large ship each and nothing exploded. They weren't sure how to win without considerable list coaching. I don't pretend everything is viable, but pretty specific combinations seem to be needed in a 1-vs-1 large base to have either one pop.

3. Large ships could easily hit a small target and scoot to take a narrow campaign win to allow the building of bases. This is partially intended in the campaign, but left experienced players flying large bases feeling torn between an obvious winning tactic, and any fun for the learning opponent.

In my opinion, the half hull rule for all ships is also worth gathering data. A tricked out corvette that is damaged is only worth a couple of fighters in points, and ramming (particularly with small ships) becomes less attractive. I will try to track all my future 200pt games with regular, half-the-large-base, and half-the-hull scoring to see what players think seems the best score to represent how the game felt to both competitors.

That said, my busiest 13 weeks starts tomorrow so my data will dwindle until summer. Spring break sounds like a possible data oasis for another campaign here.

 

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I recall large ships have been a problem in this format, in the very least I would have restricted a maximum of 1 large ship per list to cull rebel advantages in this way. I'm in agreement with the half-hull scoring idea... I don't know about total scoring but I think X-Wing introduced a rule midway in its 1.0 history to award half points to half-destroyed ships when tanky Falcons were the list of the day.

 

I keep meaning to run a Taskforce tournament someday soon, I'll include this rule if I do.

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I have not played your Task Forge system, but my local group has played a lot with fleets of 200 points (one of our players really likes that value). What we have found and yes this is subjective as I did not record any info or anything like that. But we have found that the MSU in smaller games are much more powerful than the large ships and just own them. It has gotten to the point that when we play small point games no one will take a large ship as they can not compete. They have a hard time with getting objectives, are almost always getting attacked by multiple units a turn, so there defense tokens are less valuable (I can redirect this damage to my right side, but then the ship shooting me in the right side will have less shields to shoot at and so on), they are more likely to need to burn defense tokens early in the game when getting shot by multiple units, making longevity more difficult. The small ships if not destroyed outright can more easily disengage and with fewer commands switch to engineering to fix them self easier. Now yes it is easier to destroy them outright, but maybe it is just my group one shooting even a small ship does not happen very often (it is amazing how often they survive with one hull left to run away and fight another day).  So not really able to comment on your house rule, but from what I have seen it is not needed, at least not for large ships only, I could see some value if it was for all ships as in my group it is most likely to be used with the small ships than anything else, just my $.02.

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My non-expert, non-competitive experience is that 200pts favors large ships with red dice control, like a Cymoon. From mid-field they threaten almost side to side, so nothing can skate past them. Put in a flotilla that feeds tokens, and stays safely in its shadow buffed by scatter. Add SA to get a good three activations. Playing say MSU Sloane, I can win on points, but it's tough and the Quasar is highly threatened while going after the flotilla to get a kill for the winning points. A misstep or few bad rolls and the Quasar is dead the game is lost and the Cymoon is barely scathed.

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1 hour ago, CDAT said:

I have not played your Task Forge system, but my local group has played a lot with fleets of 200 points (one of our players really likes that value). What we have found and yes this is subjective as I did not record any info or anything like that. But we have found that the MSU in smaller games are much more powerful than the large ships and just own them. It has gotten to the point that when we play small point games no one will take a large ship as they can not compete. They have a hard time with getting objectives, are almost always getting attacked by multiple units a turn, so there defense tokens are less valuable (I can redirect this damage to my right side, but then the ship shooting me in the right side will have less shields to shoot at and so on), they are more likely to need to burn defense tokens early in the game when getting shot by multiple units, making longevity more difficult. The small ships if not destroyed outright can more easily disengage and with fewer commands switch to engineering to fix them self easier. Now yes it is easier to destroy them outright, but maybe it is just my group one shooting even a small ship does not happen very often (it is amazing how often they survive with one hull left to run away and fight another day).  So not really able to comment on your house rule, but from what I have seen it is not needed, at least not for large ships only, I could see some value if it was for all ships as in my group it is most likely to be used with the small ships than anything else, just my $.02.

Are these games played on a 6x3 or 3x3 area? An important consideration for this discussion, I think.

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On 2/22/2019 at 6:08 PM, Yik said:

For simplicity, the rule should be extended to all units (just like in X-wing). 

So any unit with half hull should be counted 50% for points. Firespray at 3 hull = 9 points, MC80 command cruiser with Dodonna on it and nothing else has 4 damage cards on it, 106+20 / 2 = 63 points.

Makes the rule less annoying to figure out and treats all units evenly. 

Got to agree. The rule should apply to all units or none of them. That is balanced. Anything else is just a sin tax for bringing a large base ship to a Task force game. I really doesn't matter if the data indicates it is needed, when the perception is that large ships are not welcome/fair in Task force. It only matters if doing half damage across the board is more or less of a broken mechanic than the current scoring system.

I want every game of Armada to be fun and fair, regardless of the point limit. Small/medium ships have other advantages that large ships don't. Apply it equally to all units, or not at all.

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4 hours ago, FortyInRed said:

Just dropping this here to spur future discussion:

https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/news/2019/3/28/rebellion-in-the-rim/

Thanks, do you think this relates to the balance question or the 200pt format in general? 

I'm very excited that FFG is considering a 200 point format. I think they realize it has serious benefits. 

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4 hours ago, Blail Blerg said:

Thanks, do you think this relates to the balance question or the 200pt format in general? 

I'm very excited that FFG is considering a 200 point format. I think they realize it has serious benefits. 

More the latter. I don't have insight into what, if any, rule changes this might bring but thought it interesting that FFG is looking at smaller point games

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6 hours ago, ovinomanc3r said:

I wouldn't count upgrades. It is possible to up to 90 points on them which allows you score almost the whole ship value (55+45) dealing 6 damage cards. There are shields but there are also several ways to bypass them.

I'm trying to understand what you mean here, but I think you could be more clear. 

You're saying that you have a ISD 1, which is worth 110/2=55 and 90/2=45 of upgrades, which means your entire list is literally 110+90=200, you have ONE ship in your whole 200 point fleet. If the opponent scores SEVEN not SIX (you have score the higher half of the damage cards), and likely has depleted the shields on that ISD, they should probably deserve to earn 100 points for that! 

Now, yes, you do have a point that there are ways to bypass shield and get cards, but for SEVEN? No, its more likely you were losing that fight and shields in the first place. Either way, you can always use repair commands. Can you provide evidence that if the ISD does take SEVEN damage cards that the opponent should not earn half the value including its upgrades? 
I have a hard time imagining that situation. Maybe Rambo Cr90s, but those likely go pop. Or you're doing it literally for the Rambo strategy. 

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6 hours ago, Blail Blerg said:

I'm trying to understand what you mean here, but I think you could be more clear. 

You're saying that you have a ISD 1, which is worth 110/2=55 and 90/2=45 of upgrades, which means your entire list is literally 110+90=200, you have ONE ship in your whole 200 point fleet. If the opponent scores SEVEN not SIX (you have score the higher half of the damage cards), and likely has depleted the shields on that ISD, they should probably deserve to earn 100 points for that! 

Maybe I didn't understand what half means. 11 Hull points make 6 damage cards more than half of the damage, but whatever. You said that they deserve those points and I disagree. The actual game agree as worth you nothing if you don't kill anything. However I could see and even agree that earning as t least something in special formats could be good.

Despite that, xi7, Luke, APT, ramming, Avenger etc. help a lot.

My main concern is that a fortress list is being penalized. A cr90 and a neb are able to put down a Vic (8hull, 10 shields) within 6 rounds. In my mind you're completely able to put down big ships in 200 points games, I could make you that task easier giving you an amount of point for achieving NOTHING, but half the fleet? IMHO is just too much, but it is just my opinion. If you think to do less that what you're supposed to be able worth 100/200 points, it is up to you.

I didn't test anything beyond several learning scenarios so I'm not going to argue more about this. I just shared a little change I would suggest to the rule you wrote because I thought it was maybe too much. If you found a lot of games where people struggled to put down big ships and the tournament points systems didn't fit well then stand on your rules. They should work I guess.

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4 hours ago, ovinomanc3r said:

Maybe I didn't understand what half means. 11 Hull points make 6 damage cards more than half of the damage, but whatever. You said that they deserve those points and I disagree. The actual game agree as worth you nothing if you don't kill anything. However I could see and even agree that earning as t least something in special formats could be good.

Despite that, xi7, Luke, APT, ramming, Avenger etc. help a lot.

My main concern is that a fortress list is being penalized. A cr90 and a neb are able to put down a Vic (8hull, 10 shields) within 6 rounds. In my mind you're completely able to put down big ships in 200 points games, I could make you that task easier giving you an amount of point for achieving NOTHING, but half the fleet? IMHO is just too much, but it is just my opinion. If you think to do less that what you're supposed to be able worth 100/200 points, it is up to you.

I didn't test anything beyond several learning scenarios so I'm not going to argue more about this. I just shared a little change I would suggest to the rule you wrote because I thought it was maybe too much. If you found a lot of games where people struggled to put down big ships and the tournament points systems didn't fit well then stand on your rules. They should work I guess.

Sorry you’re absolutely right it’s six cards. Somehow I had a serious math moment. 

 

This is precisely what I found to a very high occurrence and poor balance effect. 

 If you found a lot of games where people struggled to put down big ships and the tournament points systems didn't fit well then stand on your rules. They should work I guess.

 

i should note again that this is the case for the first or only large ship in a list. It’s not an issue yet for small and medium ships 

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