Jump to content
Captain Lackwit

X-Wing: Bad Game Design - Focus

Recommended Posts

Let's talk about Focus... and why it needs to friggin' go.

Think of one more useful action in the game. You can't. There isn't one. If you don't take focus, you're losing a dice mod that's extremely handy. If you do take focus, you're giving yourself the most versatile token in the game. It is useful offensively and defensively, and while you may say, you may say that it adds a strategic aspect on when to spend it...

You have to take it instead of...

Barrel Roll.
Boost.
Target Lock (what Focus SHOULD be)
And many others.

No single action is more useful than Focus. It is the Battle Rifle of this game. The design mechanic that dominates all others because it is too good in too many scenarios, and too advantageous to use instead of others. In a game about positioning, pilot skill, and getting behind your foe, shouldn't there be more inherent value in abilities that reposition you? I believe there should be.

But no, Focus is more useful because it removes randomness- or mitigates it. That's good, but the problem is that it has to be taken instead of genuinely interesting abilities. Which is why linked abilities exist. But if it doesn't link into or from focus, you're almost straight up hurting yourself.

What if it was baked in, though? What if at range one, you didn't get another dice, but were allowed to flip an eye result? What if it was part of the range mechanics? With less dice being thrown around, there's less reason to use something like focus. After all, more dice is more odds to get more eye results, which if you focused, means a load of damage output... Or mitigation, if not outright evasion!

Stack focus on top of something like crack shot, elusive, evade, it just gets frustrating.

I do not like that Focus is an action. If anything, it should be a reward for getting into range one. If this were the case, you'd be working with better odds anyway, but not dishing out more firepower- just having way better chances of hitting something. Which I think makes a lot of sense.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Focus is indeed very powerful. So are the other actions.

I'd prefer it if either no ship had linked focus or all ships had linked focus, because of the reasons you listed, but without releasing another new edition, we're stuck with it as it stands.

However, anything that weakens dice mods makes the game depend even more on the dice being rolled - do you really want everything to need 'nattties' ? Dice variance is already a bigger factor in 2nd ed than it was in 1st ed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FFG should have gone with surge instead. :P

Now we could discuss the ludology of X-wing and all the errors in the 1st product till there is no tomorrow (if some players could just look beyond the meta to the fundamental aspects).  But the fact is that X-wing like almost every tactical focus board game and miniature game out there has measured movement and randomized attack. Can you imagine if Chess had to roll a D6 for every attack to see if you could make the move. (King/Queen 2+, Bishop 3+, Knight 4+, Rook 5+ w/ a 5+ save, Pawn 6+), it would not be a game of strategy that much. Now again players have different ideas on how the game should be played, some think that the dice game should be the focus of the meta with exhaustive analysis on jousting values. Others think that making positioning the focus of the game as it does not depend on randomness thus making the game what they would consider to be more strategic. 

Now on to focus tokens. It is on the dice aspect of the game and for the most part completely ignores the position aspect of the game (unless an upgrade/ability spends focus for movement). With focus being the most versatile token it is also the most prominent token. Thus why X-wing tried to scale back on the focus stacking and added in mini-focus tokens in the forms of calculate and force. Even though evade produces a higher defense modifier and target lock has a higher hit percentage, focus was useful in both attack and defense. When in doubt focus. That rule still holds true even for the calculate action. Now 2nd edition the focus token has been nerfed quite a bit both with dice subtracting effects (strain tractor) and with less abilities for focus to stack and it no longer being a universal pilot option (there is also jam but that is another story). 

So if there was going to be a change to focus what would that change be? Honestly I can't think of something other than the calculate action for a lot of pilots. If focus becomes too much of a bad thing you could add abilities that make it a double edge sword (such as rerolls if defender has a focus token). But I don't think any core rule errata is needed as of yet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I like the idea of Focus being an inherent feature of the game, used for something like Range.

I definitely know what you mean, and it actually kinda bugs me every time I get into a situation in which multiple actions are viable for the turn (which isn't always, depending on everyone's positions and the actions available on any given ship). It really feels bad to decide to choose a movement action instead of Focus, only to roll all eyes that turn, even if that was the only way you could have gotten a shot (let alone if that also happens to you defensively).

Edited by Jokubas

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It had not crossed my mind before but I slightly agree. Not sure I agree enough to feel strongly about it, but still.. Sometimes I have an interesting decision to make on my action, where focus feels like a cop out. But then it is inevitably the safest choice and I take it with an edge of disappointment.

Off the top of my head, switching the faces of the die might have been a solution. It would take math to know. If there were one less eye on each dice, whether blank or paint instead, what impact would that have?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Captain Lackwit said:

Let's talk about Focus... and why it needs to friggin' go.

Think of one more useful action in the game. You can't. There isn't one. If you don't take focus, you're losing a dice mod that's extremely handy. If you do take focus, you're giving yourself the most versatile token in the game. It is useful offensively and defensively, and while you may say, you may say that it adds a strategic aspect on when to spend it...

You have to take it instead of...

Barrel Roll.
Boost.
Target Lock (what Focus SHOULD be)
And many others.

No single action is more useful than Focus. It is the Battle Rifle of this game. The design mechanic that dominates all others because it is too good in too many scenarios, and too advantageous to use instead of others. In a game about positioning, pilot skill, and getting behind your foe, shouldn't there be more inherent value in abilities that reposition you? I believe there should be.

But no, Focus is more useful because it removes randomness- or mitigates it. That's good, but the problem is that it has to be taken instead of genuinely interesting abilities. Which is why linked abilities exist. But if it doesn't link into or from focus, you're almost straight up hurting yourself.

What if it was baked in, though? What if at range one, you didn't get another dice, but were allowed to flip an eye result? What if it was part of the range mechanics? With less dice being thrown around, there's less reason to use something like focus. After all, more dice is more odds to get more eye results, which if you focused, means a load of damage output... Or mitigation, if not outright evasion!

Stack focus on top of something like crack shot, elusive, evade, it just gets frustrating.

I do not like that Focus is an action. If anything, it should be a reward for getting into range one. If this were the case, you'd be working with better odds anyway, but not dishing out more firepower- just having way better chances of hitting something. Which I think makes a lot of sense.

Target lock is also a required dice mod. If you took away Focus, TL becomes the new focus. 

 

No.

What you need is a way to play the game that ISN"T ABOUT EFFICIENCY. 

Also, I'm not decrying efficiency. I have no interest in playing scrub garbage level and picking crazy maneuvers with no regard for optimization. I see far too many players who don't understand what "Focus is required" means. (And then of course complain that they shouldn't have lost, when they don't even have a modicum of understanding of basic efficiency.) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, rolling natural naked dice is NOT better for the game. Trust me. There's tons of research on why the increased variance is not good. You WANT consistent dice mods. between 75%-90% variance is a good thing for a game, some luck, but not too much.

1.0 was in a way a more balanced game when everything got 2 or so dice mods/actions (And why if you got like 5-6 actions and mods inherently like those awful 2ship large base turret lists were overpowered)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, TheCeilican said:

Stop trying to second guess the game design, you're really bad at it.

And you're exceptionally rude.

13 minutes ago, Vector Strike said:

It's very easy to make Focus look like a chump: create a new action that makes blank results to become hits or evades. 😜

oh god that with focus as well hrgh noooooo

1 hour ago, Blail Blerg said:

Also, rolling natural naked dice is NOT better for the game. Trust me. There's tons of research on why the increased variance is not good. You WANT consistent dice mods. between 75%-90% variance is a good thing for a game, some luck, but not too much.

1.0 was in a way a more balanced game when everything got 2 or so dice mods/actions (And why if you got like 5-6 actions and mods inherently like those awful 2ship large base turret lists were overpowered)

Believe me, it's not naked dice rolls that I want, but would range 1 focus-grant be so bad? That makes sense to me. I'm just tired of that action being SO good.

At least you can't spend TL defensively.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Captain Lackwit said:

The design mechanic that dominates all others because it is too good in too many scenarios, and too advantageous to use instead of others.

That is in my opinion precisely why it's interesting, not boring: the other actions are often better or simply necessary and more important. Arcdodging, maye the evade or a lock, or turning that crit, it all comes at the price of not focusing. But they are all super nice to have in the right situation.

And that creates interesting decision making because it comes at a price.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, PorgLeader said:

Gripe about Focus all you want, but the real downfall of X-Wing was the 2 Bank Left maneuver. 2 Bank Right was powerful enough as it was, but pairing it with a Left took things too far. Now every dial in the game has to have it just to be competitive. Ridiculous!

 

Bank Maneuvers and Focus?!  This entire thread is blatantly Droidcist!

tenor.gif?itemid=10809167

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

If you weaken focus, (ability to do) reposition actions has/have to cost a lot more. Otherwise you give a huge advantage to the more mobile ships. Actually guessing right and having arc with a "stiff" ship should be rewarded, no? (Compared to swishing around with easy dial, 5 repositions and perfect board knowledge).

That  said, IF we want to talk about BAD design, maybe we should start elsewhere: with gas clouds?

Edited by Managarmr
Spelling

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, GreenDragoon said:

giphy.gif?cid=790b76115ca88ced4471524577eadd8c

I said already at first announcement "these things better have a real disadvantage as well". Actually they do not really have one. You can e. g. just K-turn right over, only winning by it, more games going to time, many swarms gonna love clouds, as they almost remove obstacles from the game. 

Clouds still being new, and Guardians of Republic not even sold everywhere yet, imho people have not yet fully realised what is probably going to happen. It has been discussed on a number of pods, but not so much here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Focus is not bad design. It's value decreases as pilot skill increases because a higher initiative pilot will be using their boosts and barrel rolls to improve positioning.

This game is not only a dice game, in addition to a positioning game, it's also a game of reading your opponent, and optimizing actions through proper decision making.

A low pilot skill Y-wing who knows his front arc will be dodged by a higher pilot skill opponent has many choices to consider.

Does he take a focus to increase his one defense die from 37% to 62%? Does he rotate his arc to get a shot? Does he barrel roll to try and block? Does he target lock to try and set up a shot for later?

How do those choices change when that 1 agility 2 attack Y-Wing is instead a 3 agility 3 attack die TIE Silencer? How do those choices further change if a 1-health TIE/FO knows he's going to take a 2-die attack at range 3? Should the TIE/FO then evade, and trust in his 4 defense dice?

Similarly, imagine a high pilot skill Y-Wing closing on a target. Does he focus to increase his 2-die primary attack? If he rolls one or two focus results does he save the focus for his VTG Ion Cannon, or doe she spend it? Does he barrel roll to improve his positioning for next turn?

Good game design is the incorporation of choice, and excellent game design is the incorporation of ambiguous choice. X-Wing is among the best games of choice I have ever played.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I don't think there is anything wrong with focus at all, but I wonder what the game would be if they had switched the surge mechanic from Legion. It would have added another layer to the ship identities. I wouldn't mind if they did that with focus. It's not going to happen though.

Edited by BVRCH

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to agree partly with the OP. It is rather disappointing when Focus is invariably the best option, both because of the flexibility and consistency it provides. Calculate and Force are good IMO, but I'm really not sure what to do with Focus. Is it necessarily a bad thing to have one action choice that is just the best? Often your action will be a no-brainer anyway (boost out of an opponents arc, still have a shot).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 I get what you are saying, but I'm not sure I agree.  Maybe it feels better to think of a focused ship as the baseline for normal operation.

Get outflown and have to barrel roll to get a shot in someone?  Your penalty is no focus token.  

Get targeted by many enemies and spend your focus token on defense?  Now you're at a disadvantage for your attack.

Is it worth a red maneuver to throw someone off your tail?  You can do it, but there's a real cost.  You don't get back to your baseline expected efficiency that turn.

I get that it's powerful, but I don't think the game would be better if most people had a 50% chance to roll a hit instead of a 75% chance per die.  Think of focus as normal, and I think the rest of the game works pretty well.

The one exception here is evade.  Since they nerfed it from 1.0, it very rarely feels worth taking (unless you have juke or already have a focus as well).  I think there was opportunity to make the focus/evade decision more interesting.  I'm not sure what would accomplish that well, though.  Having them stick around like target locks is to strong (it's basically a shield token then).  Maybe if there was only 1 focus result on a green die instead of two, but that would have changed the whole balance of ships that rely on green dice.  Maybe if you got a free evade with a barrel roll?  It's fun and thematic on low init TIE/LNs, but probably OP on high init action stacking arc dodgers.  Don't know, but I don't feel it's quite perfect yet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, BojambaMcMamba said:

 I get what you are saying, but I'm not sure I agree.  Maybe it feels better to think of a focused ship as the baseline for normal operation.

Get outflown and have to barrel roll to get a shot in someone?  Your penalty is no focus token.  

Get targeted by many enemies and spend your focus token on defense?  Now you're at a disadvantage for your attack.

Is it worth a red maneuver to throw someone off your tail?  You can do it, but there's a real cost.  You don't get back to your baseline expected efficiency that turn.

I get that it's powerful, but I don't think the game would be better if most people had a 50% chance to roll a hit instead of a 75% chance per die.  Think of focus as normal, and I think the rest of the game works pretty well.

The one exception here is evade.  Since they nerfed it from 1.0, it very rarely feels worth taking (unless you have juke or already have a focus as well).  I think there was opportunity to make the focus/evade decision more interesting.  I'm not sure what would accomplish that well, though.  Having them stick around like target locks is to strong (it's basically a shield token then).  Maybe if there was only 1 focus result on a green die instead of two, but that would have changed the whole balance of ships that rely on green dice.  Maybe if you got a free evade with a barrel roll?  It's fun and thematic on low init TIE/LNs, but probably OP on high init action stacking arc dodgers.  Don't know, but I don't feel it's quite perfect yet.

I think this is mostly what I'd say. . .the desire to do something other than Focus is an important aspect of the game.

OTOH, I can't help but say @Captain Lackwit also has a valid point that Focus is easily the most powerful action in the game.  Because, basically, it is always useful.

One thing that could easily make Focus in line with all the other abilities is to make it Red Dice Only, while Evade becomes Green Dice Only.  Locks remain important with the idea of "Are You Firing Light Or Devices?"  Then, each action is one ability only, just like all other actions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting discussion. I've played a lot of miniatures games over the years, and I've always thought X-Wing was one of the more elegantly simple game designs.

It's not hard to learn, but you have to play and practice to improve and get good.

The fact that there's an action that is kind of a universal default action doesn't bother me.

Keep in mind that part of the game is trying to deny your opponent that very action.

Or that fact that by aggressive or poor flying a ship isn't getting that action in the first place.

Admittedly it can be a little repetitive, but I don't see focus as a bad thing. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Yeah, I don't get it

Focus being a "default" is a good thing, since there is no other "default" action

Focus: "default"

TL: can set up for a future attack or enable ordnance

Boost/roll etc: repositioning instead of mods 

Evade: kinda naff unless you stack it, but we tried having it be better in 1st Ed...didn't go well

 

Plus, with "forcus", focus doesn't exactly monopolize turning FOCUS results into relevant results 

Edited by ficklegreendice

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...