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Ban Take Initiative?

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We're having our own little community project to keep IA alive in Germany. But we need some help.

Many players complained about Take Initiative. It is too strong / it decides too many close games. A recost and a ban have been on topic many times.

Yes, Take Initiative is too cheap for what it does. But making it more expensive makes the situation even worse (in my opinion): Negation doesn't work anymore, when Take Initiative is more expensive. And most players would use it anyways, so the only effect would be, that the average Command Deck would have less options for other cool cards.

The problem is: It is extremely overpowered, if a player knows for sure, that he has the last activation in one round AND the first activation in the next round. E.g. IG moves out shoots twice, next round shoots twice and moves back. That way he can deal so much damage without being in danger at any time.

FFG's designers solved that problem with Take Initative / Negation. Other possible solutions, that come to my mind:

- Initiative is rolled at the start of each round. That way, noone knows, what will happen, and you don't risk your IG for a 50% chance of being killed.

- The player, that has the last activation in any given round, automatically does not have the Initiative in the next round. That way no single deployment can activate twice in a row, without giving the opponent any chance to react.

What do you think? Don't change that Initiative System? Roll each round? Last activation last round => not the first activation next round? Other?

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I think it's very difficult to make a "fair" system.

We can keep as is, with the Take/Negation situation (as a Scum player I rarely use Take though, because of Devious but whatever).

If you roll each round, you can get the short end every turn after the first. That alone can, I think, change as much as Take.

The last in, last out, gives a lot of foresight into how things will play out and does not leave room for surprises. Maybe makes a comeback harder?

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Posted (edited)

I would just straight out ban Take initiative. Then the only way to guarantee initiative during a game would be Hans card. I strongly dislike the solution with Negation as a counter for TI, its a clumsy solution that makes the game too random for too powerful of an effect. The roll each round solution does not sound awesome to me. Basically two bad rolls can cost you the game.   

Edited by Ram

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After worlds last year we played a "no-16" tournament, which banned all cards (deployment and command) that were used in any of the top 16 worlds lists.  This obviously included Take Initiative.  I wasn't a huge fan of playing this way.  Like you said, when you know 100% that you're going to have the init next round it's way too easy to run out into the open, take a big shot, take another big shot at the start of the next round and then run back into cover. 

Honestly I don't hate the current rules and I think I'd prefer to leave them as they are, but if you wanted to change them I really like your suggestion of last act in one round -> lose init the next round.  It would certainly change list-building around a bit.  Right now its strictly an advantage to have as many activations as possible.  With your change there are some lists that would still really want to guarantee last activation (e.g. Han, Vader, Bantha) but there are other lists that just wouldn't care.  It might make it more viable to take really low activation count lists, which is kind of a cool thing.

Hmm... the more I think about it, the more I like this change.  Especially if you want things to be more strategic and less random (which not everyone will agree with, but that does sound like it's your goal)

 

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Another interesting part of the last in, last out version is target priority during the round. You can "attempt" to ensure initiative next round, by firing at your opponent's activated figures instead of unactivated. This also creates a bit of a catchup - if you get unactivated deployments blasted, at least you have a good shot at starting next round.

Devalues Devious Scheme tremendously though, unless you reword it.

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Posted (edited)

I definitely want to have a community-driven discussion about what to do with Take Initiative and initiative-manipulating abilities. 

My favorite take on fixing TI was to do something like this:

"Use at the start of the round to claim the initiative token. After your opponent resolves his or her first activation this round, you must exhaust one of your Deployment cards."

Not 100% sure if that's worded appropriately, but the idea is as follows:
Player 1 plays TI
Player 1 activates a deployment card
Player 2 activates a deployment card
Player 1 exhausts a deployment card (meaning that deployment does not actually play)
Player 2 activates a deployment card
Player 1 activates a deployment card, etc.

Edited by cnemmick

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43 minutes ago, a1bert said:

I love abilities that have drawbacks.

There are plenty of ways to increase the drawback of Take Initiative without changing its point cost.

  • Block/wild power tokens to the opponent(s) come to mind.
  • Pay VP?

Opponent chooses which card gets exhausted? (Maybe apart from the one that you activate immediately, if that's too harsh).

Currently too easy to just exhaust C-3PO because who cares what he does after turn 1 anyway, he's probably camping on a terminal anyway which isn't affected by whether he's exhausted or not. Becomes much more of a decision of whether or not to use it if getting to use Jedi Luke immediately means you lose the chance to use Leia this turn, or whatever. In fact it becomes more of a decision whether or not to take it in your list - lists with lots of Stormtroopers will probably still be fine with it, lists with Vader and the Emperor and Thrawn probably wouldn't want to use it at all.

I'd personally prefer to avoid an outright ban if possible. Granted it's currently as ****-near an auto-include as you ever see, but certain knowledge about who goes first next turn will increase the number of no-brainer situations. Currently you always have to think: what if they play Take Initiative? If they do, will I want to use Negation on it? What if that means I can't use Negation on Element of Surprise, or whatever? Or, if you've got Take Initiative in hand: do I use it next turn? If I do, who do I exhaust (if that's not a no-brainer)? If I plan this turn to use it next turn, what if they play Negation? Yes, it's a practical certainty that it will be in every list. But that means it's something you always have to think about and plan around, and that seems like a good thing to me. It's never a surprise to see it used - an annoyance, maybe; representative of a gamble that didn't pay off, sure; bad news for the outcome of the game, perhaps; but never a surprise. That means it's something you can and should prepare for.

It's just part of the risk management in the game IMO... but maybe just a little bit too good, because as of now building a Command deck is almost always 14 cards totalling 15 points, plus Take Initiative. (Or in most cases, 13 costing 14, plus Take Initiative and Negation).

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Netrunner had an interesting system that would work better for Imperial Assault. OP cards would decrease the amount of points you have.

 

So, instead of Take Initiative costing more, it would decrease the amount of points you can use in your command card deck. This approach could be applied to other OP cards.

 

That said, I prefer restricted list approach, but I don't know what could go on it without soft banning it, outside of Take Initiative, Assasinate and On the Lam.

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Posted (edited)

I would love to try a version of the following:

"Exhaust any number of deployment cards to gain the Initiative Token.  Your opponent may then exhaust any number of deployment cards totaling an amount equal to or higher than the total cost you exhausted, to cancel this effect.  All figures exhausted remain exhausted even if the effect is cancelled."

Needs a bit of wording cleanup of course, but I think the intent is clear. ; )

Edit: Oh, and maybe have it cost one point as well, deliberately to move it out of Negation range.

Edited by IndyPendant

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15 hours ago, ManateeX said:

After worlds last year we played a "no-16" tournament, which banned all cards (deployment and command) that were used in any of the top 16 worlds lists.  This obviously included Take Initiative.  I wasn't a huge fan of playing this way.  Like you said, when you know 100% that you're going to have the init next round it's way too easy to run out into the open, take a big shot, take another big shot at the start of the next round and then run back into cover.

I thought it was refreshing not to have the whole "does he have TI" mindgames at the time. But you're right; not having any initiative manipulation means that end-of-round/beginning-of-round alpha strikes do too much to the game state.

11 hours ago, Mikica said:

So, instead of Take Initiative costing more, it would decrease the amount of points you can use in your command card deck. This approach could be applied to other OP cards.

I'm not entirely sure I understand how reducing the maximum amount of points for Command cards (TI costs 0, but your Command card points budget is now 13) isn't the same as just increasing the cost of the card (TI costs 2, leaving you with 13 points for other cards). I'm not trying to be rude; maybe I'm missing something here?

I've mentioned this before on the forums somewhere, but I was of the mindset that increasing the prices of powerful Command cards was a good solution until @brettpkelly convinced me that, no matter what the cost, people will still take those cards. If On the Lam and Assassinate now cost 5 points, Hunter and Smuggler players will still take those cards. Additionally, there are so many good 0-cost utility cards that the overall power level of the Command card deck wouldn't be as reduced. Therefore you'd just end up with more card draw figures and abilities so that the odds of drawing those 5-point cards are higher, and the 0-cost cards would still help the army be deadly.

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46 minutes ago, cnemmick said:

I'm not entirely sure I understand how reducing the maximum amount of points for Command cards (TI costs 0, but your Command card points budget is now 13) isn't the same as just increasing the cost of the card (TI costs 2, leaving you with 13 points for other cards). I'm not trying to be rude; maybe I'm missing something here?

I was explaining how MWL used to work in Netrunner. As long as it's clear that the cost modification is during list building only (so Negation still works for TI, for example) it doesn't matter that much.

That said, having powerful cards decrease the max amount of points might be easier to word in a way that removes ambiguity (that their cost stays the same during play).

1 hour ago, cnemmick said:

I've mentioned this before on the forums somewhere, but I was of the mindset that increasing the prices of powerful Command cards was a good solution until @brettpkelly convinced me that, no matter what the cost, people will still take those cards. If On the Lam and Assassinate now cost 5 points, Hunter and Smuggler players will still take those cards. Additionally, there are so many good 0-cost utility cards that the overall power level of the Command card deck wouldn't be as reduced. Therefore you'd just end up with more card draw figures and abilities so that the odds of drawing those 5-point cards are higher, and the 0-cost cards would still help the army be deadly.

I never understood this argument in Imperial Assault. I get it if you have ways to search for command cards or to get them from discard, but in SWIA you can't do that for most cards (at least for the main offenders). Having fewer, more powerful cards increases variance, but variance is already high in SWIA that I don't think it matters. The point is, overall power level of the Command Deck will be reduced. You'll still take the gamebreaking effect, but you have to compromise.

If you want less variance, then command cards should have some in game play cost but that's a different game.

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17 hours ago, aermet69 said:

Devalues Devious Scheme tremendously though, unless you reword it.

Not really: Devious Scheme gets banned anyways for being overpowered.

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I like the Last In Last Out idea. I’ve never heard of that before but it’s the most promising one. And if someone wanted to steal the Initiative then they’d have to use Han’s unique command card. 

 

Either that or say that TI costs 2 pts during deck-building only, and then it returns to 0 pts (and thus Negation-able) during the game. 

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Mikica said:

That said, having powerful cards decrease the max amount of points might be easier to word in a way that removes ambiguity (that their cost stays the same during play).

I never understood this argument in Imperial Assault. I get it if you have ways to search for command cards or to get them from discard, but in SWIA you can't do that for most cards (at least for the main offenders). Having fewer, more powerful cards increases variance, but variance is already high in SWIA that I don't think it matters. The point is, overall power level of the Command Deck will be reduced. You'll still take the gamebreaking effect, but you have to compromise.

If you want less variance, then command cards should have some in game play cost but that's a different game.

I don't believe the issue is card variance. I think issue is card strength. One of these apex cards turns the entire game too strongly for the person who plays it. TI without Negation often leads to a primary figure getting eliminated, which means the player who played TI is in control of the game. On the Lam not only negates an attack, but it also sucks in resources committed to that attack (Focus, Command cards played, etc.). A player playing what I call Hunter Card Gin Rummy (where at least 2 of Tools for the Job, Heightened Reflexes, Primary Target and Assassinate are played in one attack, along with other attack card buffs) means that his elite Weequay with a figure cost of 4 can push 10+ damage onto a figure with a much, much higher figure cost.

Personally, I'd like to see the community address this in IACP. We are already, with our nerfs to On the Lam and Assassinate, which so far has been getting positive feedback overall. I'd like to see Take Initiative have more of a price (like paying VPs for using it, or exhausting a card with a Deployment cost of 6 or higher) or less power (like allowing the TI player to activate a figure first, but then the opponent has two back-to-back activations to respond). This still allows the player who plays TI to have an advantage but doesn't put the opponent at disadvantage too steep to overcome with excellent play. 

Additionally, I think evaluating the effectiveness of zero-cost Command cards should be on the docket. A combination of On the Lam + two zero point cards should roughly be no more valuable than 3 cards made up of a combination of Command cards that cost 0, 1 or 2 points. If the power of Take Initiative is reduced, then the importance of having it being able to be countered by Negation goes down... and it can be appropriately priced for its effect on the game state.

A smart & efficient reworking of Command cards will really improve the fairness of a Skirmish game overall without compromising the hidden information game elements. Then reducing card draw variance with figures and abilities that increase card draw is more of a play style choice than a necessity. Likewise, having Command card power more balanced across the constructed deck doesn't change the effectiveness of a STRAIN-based build; the loss of apex cards and the revealing of the deck are still something one would wish to prevent by having a figure suffer a DAMAGE to not toss a card.

To be clear: these are just my opinions. IACP will collect everybody's opinions about what to do with Command cards like TI and promote the best solution... if the majority of community feels like there's a problem with TI.

Edited by cnemmick

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The Hunter problem is not just in the cards. It's the combination of eWeequays being too efficient (we made them 8 points), RCP (we stopped that by saying that buffs work only in faction), Defensive Cards (we banned On The Lam), Nefarious Gains (Jabba lost that ability and costs 5 points in return), Devious Scheme (we banned that one too) and the dreaded Hunter Command Cards.

A focused, hidden, card-supported eWeequay, that may choose Deployment Zone and go first on turn two, and gains an additional VP for every kill, and costs 3,5 points, and may use On the Lam, is too effective.

A hidden, card-supported eWeequay, that costs 4 points, actually is OK.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/6/2019 at 5:01 PM, cnemmick said:

Player 2 activates a deployment card
Player 1 exhausts a deployment card (meaning that deployment does not actually play)
Player 2 activates a deployment card

Player 2 activating twice in a row and Player 1 wasting 1 activation sounds like someone helping the opponent to win the match...

Edited by Trevize84

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4 hours ago, Trevize84 said:

Player 2 activating twice in a row and Player 1 wasting 1 activation sounds like someone helping the opponent to win the match...

Depends on who Player 1 can kill off first, but I see your point.

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15 hours ago, Trevize84 said:

Player 2 activating twice in a row and Player 1 wasting 1 activation sounds like someone helping the opponent to win the match...

Well, the solution has its merits though. It will be very board state dependant. If most ouf your figures are more or less out out of harms way, giving the opponent two acts in a row is no big deal.

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There was a suggestion way before that I liked very much. Instead of exhausting just 1 deployment card, the player who uses TI must exhaust deployment groups whose total deployment points must be equal to or greater than a certain amount of points (5 points if my memory is to be trusted). This presents a risk on the TI user in either of these options:
1. Exhaust multiple low point deployments but have a lower activation count
2. Exhaust a mid/high point deployment but lose a significant amount of firepower

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On 5/7/2019 at 12:44 AM, a1bert said:

I love abilities that have drawbacks.

There are plenty of ways to increase the drawback of Take Initiative without changing its point cost.

  • Block/wild power tokens to the opponent(s) come to mind.
  • Pay VP?

I guess I like this, but doesn't it already have a drawback?  You must deactivate one of your deployments. I guess it's not enough?

4 hours ago, Jaric256 said:

I really don't think there's much of an issue with TI.   ¯\_(ツ)_/

I agree with this.  If you don't want it used in local tournaments, just temporarily ban it.  I know this started as a local thing, and that is fine, but hope the steering committee or whatever at IACP remains very cautious about changing too many things.  I almost feel like changes should be limited to deployment cards only, and even then, almost all should just be cost changes.  I do like one attachment card per season though, like Diala's new card.  That is fun AND it is optional, just like Vader, Han, Chewi and IGgy's fixes.  I guess I can see fixing On the Lam a bit (but I don't really like that either) and it seems some people don't like the hunter cards being doubled up (also I prefer that the way it was too), but I really think we need to be careful about changing command cards.  In your community, whatever, do what you want, but IACP specifically should be wary of changing too much and needlessly complicating things.  Deployment costs seem fine because it just changes who you can fit into your team (or not fit in if their cost increases).  That's my opinion at least. 

That being said, I don't mind adding new things at all.  New things like fixes (attachments) or completely new deployment cards or even new command cards.  Just don't like messing with old cc's very much.  So, if TI is a problem (which I don't really think it is, but whatever) then what if there was a more elegant counter to it.  Can we come up with a better cc to negate it?  Negation is OK, and aren't there a couple other CCs that could counter it already?  What if there was a new CC that would make it even riskier to play TI?  That would be a solution I could get behind.  Once again, just my opinion.  No offense intended to anyone. 

On 5/7/2019 at 1:40 AM, Bitterman said:

I'd personally prefer to avoid an outright ban if possible.

yup.

On 5/7/2019 at 1:40 AM, Bitterman said:

Yes, it's a practical certainty that it will be in every list. But that means it's something you always have to think about and plan around, and that seems like a good thing to me. It's never a surprise to see it used - an annoyance, maybe; representative of a gamble that didn't pay off, sure; bad news for the outcome of the game, perhaps; but never a surprise. That means it's something you can and should prepare for.

absolutely. 

On 5/7/2019 at 9:22 PM, cnemmick said:

and promote the best solution... if the majority of community feels like there's a problem with TI.

sounds good.  Yup, I personally think it's fine as it.  Leave it be. 

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