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Captain Lackwit

X-Wing: Bad Game Design - Focus

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Posted (edited)

Copy/paste from the thread I suspect generated this one. My own content. Short of the long is focus is the games core resource, and it really doesn't work with out it as most seem to agree on a design and functionality point. It's the base of the cost:effect ratio that allows players to judge decisions. I didn't suspect such a EDIT LOONEY /EDIT idea to get used as a click bait topic though. So that was kinda cool lol.

""(Snip) but first I have to touch on this crazy notion that focus is ... bad? I can't believe I have to explain this. But whatever here we go. Where needed, replace focus with calculate if I have not.

Focused (or now also Calculating) is the default state of a ship in the game. The game is hinged around you using actions to get better positions or shots in exchange for that focus, or to disrupt the opponents focus, and their ability to trade focus for further actions. Focus is the currency of the game, and the common standard for it's economy system, and each ship generates one every round, unless it's a Droid and generates basically a half focus, that can still be exchanged for better options. This is the nature of the game. Allow me to explain.

Consider the following to illustrate my point: we could rewrite the core rules to say the following three changes and nothing would change in game play except for how often you moved tokens around...

"At the beginning of the planning step, if a ship is not stressed, it generates one focus or calculate token." This is it's default state every turn. In all reasonability it's thematically correct as well, since no pilot would show up just to hang out, it would be focused on the mission. Let's continue with a few more tweaks.

"When a ship overlaps an obstacle, or fails to complete a planned maneuver by bumping, discard it's focus token from it." Fair right? You mess up, the pilot loses/spends focus as he tries to adjust his flight to survive a collision of any kind. That disruption prevents it from fighting effectively as it's more concerned with not crashing. Let's round it off with the last tweak, and it should become clear how this resource mechanic plays out.

"During the action step a player may choose to SPEND their focus token to perform an action on their ships action bar, OR perform the re-focus action." Which leads us to close any gaps with our resource generation and normal ship behavior with this new action called refocus: "Re-focus/re-calculate: Assign a focus/calculate token to your ship. Perform this action only if you are not focused/calculating. *You may then spend it to perform another action on your action bar.*" If you were stressed at the beginning of the round and did not get a token because of it, but cleared that stress as part of your blue move, you can get back your token. Or if you were granted additional actions via old PTL, or new linked actions or pilot abilities, you get back your default mode. Or if you hit debris but are allowed to perform actions while stressed, you can revert to normal and have a focus token. Or if a game effect says to remove the stress after your maneuver step you can get back your focus token after a koigan turn. Perceptive copilot is re-written to just say "you may perform a refocus action while you are focused." Few other extremely minor tweaks to very few specific cards like Moldy Crow and functionally no difference except you don't have to keep picking up and placing tokens an additional time each round. 

The game is built around the focus token. Every pilot in the game is focused. The question is whether they lost focus while avoiding collision, or spend that focus while attacking and leave themselves open to being shot. Or if they have to focus on surviving being shot at before they get to take their own shot. Or if they spend their focus on fancy flying and not flying casual. As we know token stripping is a part of the strategy of the game, and there's a reason for that. Focus is not there to say "this ship does better", it's there to say "this ship is normal, unless you mess up, you can take a penalty with it to do a neat trick".

TLDR: Focus is not bad. It is the gold standard of the games action economy. /Rant""

Edited by ForceSensitive
There was a travesty of autocorrect fail. Sincerest apologies. 1.2 added small fix

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The OP's proposal would (unless coupled with a massive amount of recosting and rewriting pretty much equivalent to another new edition) make the game all about arc-dodging and create the worst initiative-and-bidding war the metagame has ever seen. By making repositioning actions "free" (or better than free because they can trigger the R1 focus-like bonus as well) with a side-order of not making a blocked ace tokenless vs focused attckers who moved first, moving last would skyrocket in power and importance. It would only highlight one thing that really is a design problem in X-Wing - the all-or-nothing nature of activation order that's decided entirely by relative values (initiative+bid) in the matchup.

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Posted (edited)

The real relevance of focus is not the action/token itself, but rather the added penalty when you don't have it due to stress, blocking, asteroids, choosing to coordinate, and so on.  There are ships that are situationally sad if they can't boost/roll, lock, etc but everyone at least really wants to focus if they can.

It might be nice if some other actions were more versatile, but focus itself just fundamentally makes the game work just by existing.  Evade is the only action that is more or less out-competed by focus as a single independent action, as all the others have their individual uses without needing to stack with focus.

Edited by Effenhoog

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2 hours ago, SpiderMana said:

DMR is better 🙄

From a game design and balance sandbox perspective, absolutely, yes. The BR is complete and utter trash and should never have ever in the history of forever, happened.

6 hours ago, GreenDragoon said:

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.

I disagree. The fact that it is so versatile makes it the default action, the one you can always rely on to be useful. I hate this, because it means you have to take it more often than not, when you could do something more interesting instead.

 

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5 minutes ago, Captain Lackwit said:

From a game design and balance sandbox perspective, absolutely, yes. The BR is complete and utter trash and should never have ever in the history of forever, happened.

I disagree. The fact that it is so versatile makes it the default action, the one you can always rely on to be useful. I hate this, because it means you have to take it more often than not, when you could do something more interesting instead.

 

I can't disagree more. Others have covered the whys. If you're just focusing... I mean, what are you flying? A ship with only the focus action?

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21 minutes ago, Captain Lackwit said:

 

I disagree. The fact that it is so versatile makes it the default action, the one you can always rely on to be useful. I hate this, because it means you have to take it more often than not, when you could do something more interesting instead.

More interesting like what?

If you do anything else, you can't focus.  Would you not Boost to focus? Would you not Coordinate to Focus?

My only problem would be TL vs. Focus: is it better to reroll or flip eyes?

Not trying to be snarky, I genuinely don't know what you mean. 

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18 minutes ago, Captain Lackwit said:

From a game design and balance sandbox perspective, absolutely, yes. The BR is complete and utter trash and should never have ever in the history of forever, happened.

I disagree. The fact that it is so versatile makes it the default action, the one you can always rely on to be useful. I hate this, because it means you have to take it more often than not, when you could do something more interesting instead.

 

Like others, I fail to see the problem. Each action has it’s place and moments to shine. Focus as a standard is good for learning the game, and for when you facing a bad situation. Even though it is the standard doesn’t mean it’s the right choice every time. 

If you find other actions more interesting, maybe adjust your play style to use them more, if that’s the end result you want?

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Posted (edited)

one of the more interesting topics in these forums currently.

action economy effects are arguably largely responsible for the OP state of 1.0 towards the end of its run. yes there were 360 turrets and regenerating ships that played their part but Push the Limit and similar effects that allowed single ships to take two actions with super efficiency meant that ships without this were mostly pushed out of the game.

Soontir with stealth device and PTL was one example but there were many others such as the action efficient robots. Attani Mindlink and Manaroo also.

For this reason FFG are understandable stingy about adding anything that doubles down on actions without giving it a sizeable drawback.

Coordinate action is the closest thing we have to PTL but the effect is tied to another ship passing its action and being in range so this is balanced.

Linked actions are interesting. The ships that have them really bend the rules but are limited to what two actions are possible and the resulting stress is a hefty price to pay because of the limitations this puts on ur next turn to clear the stress and the risk of leaving ur ship staying stressed is relevant.

im not sure what the answer is here but I do think focus should not be the default action you choose and I do think more ships need liked actions.

 

Edited by Da_Brown_Bomber

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Quote

 

No single action is more useful flexible than Focus.

 

FTFY. If a Barrel Roll or Boost is going to enable a shot and/or deny an enemy an attack, it's way more useful than a focus. Similarly if a boost or barrel roll enables a ship to block an enemy ship to protect itself from fire and prevent the enemy ship from getting mods or repositioning, it's often times better than a focus. If a lock is going to enable you to fire your expensive ordnance that turn or allow you to bank a mod on a round where you're not shooting or being shot, it's more useful than a focus. If a Jam is going to prevent an opponent from getting an extra attack die from their ordnance (and possibly grant an extra defense die from range bonus) it's better than a focus. 

Yes, focus is a safe default action in the game, but that doesn't make every other action in the game useless, and often times it will have a lower ceiling than other actions will even though it has a higher floor. It's good for a game to have a "battle rifle" which is safe and reliable and unremarkable because that makes the more exotic choices in the sandbox more interesting and fun by comparison. 

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On 4/6/2019 at 4:23 AM, Cuz05 said:

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.

So, the solution is to remove options?  Personally, I like having choices in games, even if I tend to pick one choice over the others most of the time.

On 4/6/2019 at 7:27 AM, GreenDragoon said:

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Keep at it!  Almost there!

On 4/6/2019 at 8:46 AM, McGarnacle said:

It is rather disappointing when Focus is invariably the best option, 

But it's not invariably the best option.   It's usually the best, but there are still plenty of times it's better to do something else.

On 4/6/2019 at 12:20 PM, ForceSensitive said:

Consider the following to illustrate my point: we could rewrite the core rules to say the following three changes and nothing would change in game play except for how often you moved tokens around...

"At the beginning of the planning step, if a ship is not stressed, it generates one focus or calculate token." This is it's default state every turn. In all reasonability it's thematically correct as well, since no pilot would show up just to hang out, it would be focused on the mission. Let's continue with a few more tweaks.

"When a ship overlaps an obstacle, or fails to complete a planned maneuver by bumping, discard it's focus token from it." Fair right? You mess up, the pilot loses/spends focus as he tries to adjust his flight to survive a collision of any kind. That disruption prevents it from fighting effectively as it's more concerned with not crashing. Let's round it off with the last tweak, and it should become clear how this resource mechanic plays out.

"During the action step a player may choose to SPEND their focus token to perform an action on their ships action bar, OR perform the re-focus action." Which leads us to close any gaps with our resource generation and normal ship behavior with this new action called refocus: "Re-focus/re-calculate: Assign a focus/calculate token to your ship. Perform this action only if you are not focused/calculating." If you were stressed at the beginning of the round and did not get a token because of it, but cleared that stress as part of your blue move, you can get back your token.

Maybe I missed it, but what if I'm stressed and don't get my Focus, but then want to do a non-Refocus action after my blue maneuver?

22 hours ago, Captain Lackwit said:

From a game design and balance sandbox perspective, absolutely, yes. The BR is complete and utter trash and should never have ever in the history of forever, happened.

I disagree. The fact that it is so versatile makes it the default action, the one you can always rely on to be useful. I hate this, because it means you have to take it more often than not, when you could do something more interesting instead.
 

So...choose the more interesting option instead?  Seriously, what's preventing you?

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Posted (edited)

Today I learned that some people think that the general versatility of Focus is a bug and not a feature of X-Wing's design.  I think those people are very wrong (for all the reasons that have been offered above which I won't both to reiterate), but it's nice to be reminded that not everyone shares the same basic set of assumptions about things.

Edited by AllWingsStandyingBy

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23 hours ago, Captain Lackwit said:

From a game design and balance sandbox perspective, absolutely, yes. The BR is complete and utter trash and should never have ever in the history of forever, happened.

I disagree. The fact that it is so versatile makes it the default action, the one you can always rely on to be useful. I hate this, because it means you have to take it more often than not, when you could do something more interesting instead.

 

It’s not versatile though. It’s flexible between defense and offense sure, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll roll focus results. You might blank. You might Natty. You might get jammed. You might get Pablobed. Having a focus or a lock doesn’t guarantee anything, it’s just a safety net. And that’s how it should be, generics lose a lot of their spunk if you pull focus off of them. Focus is a great equalizer in that regard. (calculate to, if you can stack multiple, which the CIS can do pretty efficiently). If you’re so inclined, you can try out wings of war and let me know how that goes. No dice, no focus, just hits and crits. Good luck.

The only ship I’d argue that it’s a default action for is Jake Farrel, so Jake can perform shenanigans, and even that requires a little setup.

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7 hours ago, Vector Strike said:

No, no, no, no: ALL blank results into hits or evades. Just like the Focus token does with, well, Focus results

This.  I mean, if Evade is now basically a defense only Focus, why would you ever take it?

Alternatively, what if you could "Red Evade," doing what you suggest but leaving you stressed?

35 minutes ago, Warlon said:

Is...this satire?

Only if you are unwilling to see the useful discussion. 

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28 minutes ago, AllWingsStandyingBy said:

Today I learned that some people think that the general versatility of Focus is a bug and not a feature of X-Wing's design.  

Exactly. In 1.0, focus was the single action every non-epic ship could take. 2.0 has changed slightly in that droid pilots get Calculate instead of focus, but it is still a single token useful for either offense or defense. It has slightly different strengths and weaknesses, but the overall purpose is the same.

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1 hour ago, JJ48 said:

So, the solution is to remove options?  Personally, I like having choices in games, even if I tend to pick one choice over the others most of the time.

Oh I never offered a solution, or even thought there was a problem, the. Just offering my 1st impression on the view in the OP.

Seeing focus as the games currency had not actually occurred to me, which seems weird for something so obvious now. It entirely shifted how I feel about the focus action as a 'boring' fall back option, in certain circumstances. 

To make more interesting choices, I need to be better at managing my funds. Changing perspective slightly has helped me see the ways in which I trade down for more interesting choices, which simplifies my whole concept of how I'm trying to play. It's a neat lever.

So I support this odd thread in all its ways. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Darth Meanie said:

This.  I mean, if Evade is now basically a defense only Focus, why would you ever take it?


Do you not understand math?  If you're getting shot but not making shots (or know you're getting shot and really need to mitigate damage), Evade is much better than Focus for ships with 1 Agility or 2 Agility.   Alternatively, maybe you want to trigger something like Juke or Millennium Falcon.  Still alternatively, maybe you already have a focus-conversion effect from another source (Calculate, Force, Focus-Token-Sharing), in which case an Evade + Focus-Effect is incredibly powerful (why it's Purple on Jedi, for instance).

The point is, there are lots of contexts where Evade is possibly better than Focus (and objectively better in some cases, if the criteria is "take minimal damage"), and being able to recognize those situations and make decisions about whether or not to Focus or something else is part of the opportunity for the player's decision-making to affect the game.

It's like TL vs F.  Mathematically, they are the same on offense (0.75 prob of hit).  Focus is easier to use, and can be used on defense.  So Focus all the time!  Right?  Wrong.  TL is the only 'action-bar' action you can keep until future turns if you don't waste it, so you can benefit from it again in a later turn if you don't need to spend it this turn... and if you can stack it with Focus... profit.  It also has a better chance of producing crits than Focus, so it's better on offense, especially when shooting ships with high Hull values.  So, Focus is easier to take and spend, but TL promises higher crits and can be saved into the next turn.  Leaving it to the player to make the important decision about when to TL and when to just Focus.



That you and Lackwit don't recognize this aspect of the game is... sort of telling, actually. 

Edited by AllWingsStandyingBy

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@JJ48 fixed it. Refocus now let's you do a replacement action as part of resolution. But really there a lot of ways that could go. For instance in my demonstration blue moves could Grant you a focus if you don't already have one and have no stress after the check pilot stress step. I feel my point still stands.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, AllWingsStandyingBy said:

Do you not understand math?

That you and Lackwit don't recognize this aspect of the game is... sort of telling, actually. 

Well thanks for setting a remedial casual-only player straight.  I thought it was a pretty interesting discussion,  but  obviously I'm just too stupid to realize the whole thread is just a POS.

(Remembers why he avoids the competitive crowd like the plague.)

Edited by Darth Meanie

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Darth Meanie said:

Well thanks for setting a remedial casual-only player straight.  I thought it was a pretty interesting discussion,  but  obviously I'm just too stupid to realize the whole thread is just a POS.

(Remembers why he avoids the competitive crowd like the plague.)

 

You made the claim that there was no reason to ever Evade because it was just a "defense only" Focus, then you asked why would anyone ever Evade instead of Focus.  You don't get to be mad and play the victim when someone answers that question with the correct answer (math).

Also, I think you're conflating "understands intro probability" with "competitive player," and that's some problematic reasoning, to say the least.

I mean, if I'm being honest, I feel like you and @Captain Lackwit are basically just trolling for the lulz at this point, which is a shame because you've both contributed a lot of positive stuff to discussions over the years.  Not sure if it's boredom with the game or what, but you guys seem to be increasingly posting incredibly-controversial click-baity titled threads and then act like the victim when people explain either why you are wrong or why they disagree.  I mean, come-on, a thread titled "X-Wing: Bad Game Design -- Focus" or"Why the Rebels are the Bad Guys!" is already presented in a way to just be provocative and flame up some conversation.  And aren't you the guy who posted that "Casual X-Wing is Dead" thread as someone who admittedly only ever played Epic in 1.0 and hadn't even yet tried 2.0 a the time of posting?  And that whole "limited edition Vulture paint" dumpster-fire of a thread... yours too, right?
 

Edited by AllWingsStandyingBy

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