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Audacious balance: Should we try to balance generics out first? (now that the game has existed for a while)

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Posted (edited)

Audacious balance: Should we try to balance generics out first? (now that the game has existed for a while)

I'm going to posit some positions here. I'm looking for people to analyze, support or refute them with good reasoning and data (either anecdotal or hard numbers). I hope people generally do arguments and suggestions like this. Look for counter-issues, provide reasoning, provide some data. 

The best balance is when diversity is highest. See xwing 1.0, starcraft 2. 

I think that one of the most doable things we could do to this game is immediately begin balancing out the generics and generic spam (mostly without upgrades) as a way of methodically pushing the game towards a stable balanced state. After that, it should be much easier and transparent to do balancing for 1. Initiative scaling, 2. Pilots individually, 3. Upgrades, combos, etc. 

Here's another very arguable point, (that even myself could argue against) - generic spam is one of the lesser NPE, abusive,easy archetypes as a top-tier strat. 
Historically, the most powerful spam archetype is probably the Howlrunner Tie Swarm. As people know though, a very difficult list to play correctly. However, it was known to reduce options very considerably for quite a while. Also generally as a strategy, there usually isn't more one can do to buff up the list at list building stage, so in terms of future proofing, its pretty easy to avoid a runaway combo disaster like 3 Jumpmasters. 

--

Here's a bunch of generics that I think could go down in price PAST THEIR CURRENT SPAM LIMITER safely without breaking the game. At this point cost, are singles or non-all-list numbers of this ship still balanced? Do you think that if a bunch of these changes happened (so theres a bunch of spam lists to choose from), would these be balanced in the general meta? Is there a spam + ace build with upgrades that becomes out of hand? (Note that upgrades themselves might need their own balancing, if the naked generics look fine, but adding the upgrade makes it broken, its likely an issue with the upgrade cost)

REBEL

Xwings and Bwings 41->40 points - 5 Xs, 5 Bs. I think this one is the most dangerous one. 5Xs sounds like a very tanky list with strong firepower and lots of mobility choices. 5Bs in a bit less worried about and think it would be a very interesting spam power list and really make a knife fight spam list really interesting. However, I think 5 of either of these would likely still be ok. 
Blade Bwing 43->42
Cavern Angel Zealot 41->40
Red Squadron vet 43->42 

Ewings Knaves 54->50 - 4Es. I think this one is easily doable, not overpowered and would be rather fun, zooming around, taking locks. 
Rogues 56->53

IMPERIAL

I'm almost audacious enough to ask for reduction to the tie Fighter, but I'm not. I still think its pretty worthless as a filler in small number but I'm not sure of that. 

Defenders 70->68? Still 2 only- (Still can't have 3 of them at that cost, would need 66) hmm. Not sure if this really should go down by much, even though 3 Tie Defenders seem not so good/fine, I'm more worried about these combo-ed with an Ace. (maybe??) (At 66, you'd easily be doing 2 Defenders + Vader/Whisper_upgraded)
Onyx 76->74

Interceptor 34->33 - 6 Alphas. All, everyones favorite. Now this looks like dastardly fun while being simultaneously dangerously awful? The Init1 sucks, but you'll have tons of blocking potential. This could easily be too easy to block things too, but I think some table time might show that to be false? 
Sabers 40->38. Add predator or unreleased targeting computer? Doesn't seem broken. 

Strikers 34->33 - 6 Strikers. Again a fan favorite. I think this would be exactly the same criterion for power as the Ints. 
Black Squadron Scout 38->37 - 5 of these at Init3 each with a seismic charge. However, seismic changes are harder to drop than they used to be, looks ok. 

SCUM

Z 24->23, Empty Illicit slot isn't worth 1 point. 

FIRST ORDER

Silencers 52->50 - 4 Init1 Silencers. Again this is more of an issue of generics + aces. I definitely think 4 Silencers wouldn't really break things. Note that 2.0 silencers start at Init1 now. 
First Order Test Pilot 58>54. Init4 silencers at cheaper would make for that good midrange + ace list like the very acclaimed QD + 2 Silencers lists. Also, currently no good double mods exist for generic silencers. 

REPUBLIC
Ahh, my favorite topics. 

Torrent 25->24? You could already fit 8 of these into a squad, and I doubt its a very good list at all. Sadly, the Z at 23 has a much better dial, this offsets the extra hp ever so slightly. I still find these to be rarely worth anything if ignored. 
Blue Squadron Protector Init3 = Gold + 2. 26 or 27. These definitely need to go down a lot. Would be good for missile spam or Dedicated spam. 

Delta 39->36. These are still better than a Init1 Alpha, but not by that much. I expect they still hit like wet noodles.
CLT likely should use a different formula
Jedi Knight with 7B - 7B from 15->12, total 54->51. I do think 4 of these would be a royal pain the tush. I think its too dangerous to allow 4 in a list. 

Arc 42->41. These are also just about right. I do think 5 Arcs would be probably a bit too strong. It would be awful to fly that list though. That medium base is cloggy and not fun at all. But that amount of firepower+durability is pretty staggering, esp with the rear arc. 
Squad Seven Vet 47->44 it is ridiculous.

SEPARATISTS
Generally I think these are fine, if a bit on the strong side.

Vultures - the main issue I think is that ESC is too cheap and provides so much extra power. Yet, balancing around that is not right either. Due to its serious spam blocking capacity, it would be wrong to bring down the naked Vulture by too much, otherwise it becomes rather easy to block the board very cheaply and body blocks are still good things in this era of the game. 
ESC 4->5. (I really think it should be more like 6 points, but the extra point probably should be baked into the Vulture cuz of how strong bodies are). I don't think raising each Vulture with ESC up by a point is necessary. 
Trade Fed Drone 20->19 ; check would be 25 meaning 8 with concussion missile? (Still probably not that great?)
Separatist Drone 22->21
Precise Hunter 26->23
Haor Chall Proto 23->21
DFS-311 24->23
DFS-081 27->24

Edited by Blail Blerg

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I also think that players should be encouraged by cheap generics to add 1-2 of them to their lists. Flying generics and setting dials is probably one of the harder aspects of the game to take advantage of, especially later, to keep getting arc and relevance out of them. However, I can totally see that too much blocking for cheap might be an issue.

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Current gatekeepers by Initiative are: 
Init multiple - Howl Swarm
Init 1 - Vulture with ESC
Init 2 - 5 Cartel Marauders Khiasldkfsn
Init 3 - 5 Black Squadron Scout Strikers
Init 3 - 8 Separatist Drones (Or other numbers of these + ace)
Init 4 - 5 Saber Squadron Ints

---

Sorted by Initiative, these are the new options: 

Init1 - 
6 Ints
6 Strikers
4 Silencers

Init2-
5 Xs
5 Bs
4 Es

Init3-
5 Striker + 3pts each

Init4- 
5 Sabers + 2pts each

A bunch of mid generics also get adjusted. 

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Posted (edited)

SCUM: id like to see jakku gunrunner at 30pts. it jumped from 28 to 32 and hasnt seen significant play since in my local meta. 

id like to see skull squadron pilot to drop a few pts too. 50pts for init4 seems balanced at first glance but its not worth adding a EPT when u can just take a name pilot which is more relevant, even wout predator or fearless on board.

GA-1 starfighter generic at 41pts is just horrible to fly without upgrading it with something like adv sensors. im betting other factions get better bang for 41pts of generic goodness.

Edited by Da_Brown_Bomber

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However much I personally like flying 4 E-Wings (done it in quickbuilds: no, it's not over-powered - it's very dice-dependent, so it can win games it has no right to, or lose games it should win) or 5 X-Wings or 6 Interceptors, it's not a good idea.

Keep the baseline at 4 X-Wings per list; adjust the rest to balance around that. Otherwise, you simply make the game take longer and time is already an issue for many lists and therefore fitting tournaments into a day's play.

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35 minutes ago, Gilarius said:

However much I personally like flying 4 E-Wings (done it in quickbuilds: no, it's not over-powered - it's very dice-dependent, so it can win games it has no right to, or lose games it should win) or 5 X-Wings or 6 Interceptors, it's not a good idea.

Keep the baseline at 4 X-Wings per list; adjust the rest to balance around that. Otherwise, you simply make the game take longer and time is already an issue for many lists and therefore fitting tournaments into a day's play.

In which case we need to price alot of things up, so that 4 G1-As with 18 points of upgrades can be closer to competitive, one with advanced sensors and all with FCS.

But people would be quite upset if things started jumping up by 4-5 points

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29 minutes ago, Scum4Life said:

In which case we need to price alot of things up, so that 4 G1-As with 18 points of upgrades can be closer to competitive, one with advanced sensors and all with FCS.

But people would be quite upset if things started jumping up by 4-5 points

Many of the higher initiative pilots should go up, some by more than 5 pts. That's a fine idea and better than simply adding more ships to a game.

I might have to try out multiple G1As, to find out how competitive they are. I only have 2, so I'll either be borrowing some or I'll mix in some other ships. 4-LOM, Zuckuss, Seevor and Palob have been mentioned as a list although that uses the pilot abilities.

By the way, a list comprised solely of one ship type does not have to be competitive for it to be correctly priced. Some chassis have weaknesses and they need to be matched with other ship types to make a competitive list.

eg 2 Gand Findsmen, 2 Cartel Marauders, and a naked Torkil Mux all fit in 200pts. Fancy facing them in an honourable joust? Or, if Vet Turret Gunner or the turrets go up, a Drea Swarm featuring G1As might be pretty decent!

 

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2 hours ago, Blail Blerg said:

I definitely think 4 Silencers wouldn't really break things.

The quick-build Seinar-Jaemus Engineer is a threat 2 ship, so at least someone at FFG HQ agrees with you...

2 hours ago, Blail Blerg said:

Interceptor 34->33 - 6 Alphas. All, everyones favorite. Now this looks like dastardly fun while being simultaneously dangerously awful? The Init1 sucks, but you'll have tons of blocking potential. This could easily be too easy to block things too, but I think some table time might show that to be false? 

The Initiative 1 is frankly an advantage when considering a boosting/rolling blocker. They are hella fragile (essentially TIE fighters without an Iden Versio equivalent), though, so the initial terror of receiving 18 red dice should be tolerable because almost any squad has a pretty decent chance of blowing at least one away before it fires.

10 minutes ago, gamblertuba said:

And I think it is time for a price decrease on the generic TIE

Taken independently of the 'force multiplier' pilots, possibly. The "you may not have more than 8 ships" thing means you don't have to worry about bigger swarms - as seen with vultures - and 'shifting' more of the swarm's value onto the squad leader feels right.

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I admit that I mostly play generics and many of my opponents do, too.  I kind of think they are fine.  I don't play Rebels much, though.   Not sure on ALL the generics. But happy enough with them.  

I do know the unique generics for Confederates need to come down, but Trade and Separatist are fine.

I know most everyone agrees with me, but I don't rate Howlrunner.  I don't think she's worth taking.

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1 hour ago, Gilarius said:

By the way, a list comprised solely of one ship type does not have to be competitive for it to be correctly priced. Some chassis have weaknesses and they need to be matched with other ship types to make a competitive list.

 

A remarkably good point.

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Well I mean, that's two philosophies.

[1] buff generics by upping the N-per-List many of them have, and keep aces the same.

[2] keep generics (mostly) the same, and increase the cost of aces.

While [2] has the issue in that generics can't really get wiggled much (can't do a slight buff on a Blue Bee), I think I'd prefer an approach where the power level is in general lowered rather than raised.  Buff were the only too devs had in 1e, even if they had to do them with fix cards and aces packs and so forth.  In 2e, they're actually able to do minor nerfs with points costs, and not just Superlaser things from orbit with hard errata.  I don't like how everything kept getting more and more and more powerful in 1e, and I'd prefer the nerfs.

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I haven’t run it, but some theory crafting I did revealed why I think the V-19 gets such a price bump going from Gold to Blue: Juke.

Dropping Blues to 27 or 28 let’s you fit 6 Juke Blues in a squad.  That isn’t necessarily great, but I think it’s something worth considering.

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2 minutes ago, FatherTurin said:

I haven’t run it, but some theory crafting I did revealed why I think the V-19 gets such a price bump going from Gold to Blue: Juke.

Dropping Blues to 27 or 28 let’s you fit 6 Juke Blues in a squad.  That isn’t necessarily great, but I think it’s something worth considering.

We know that Juke TIE Fighters are bad (with Howlrunner, they kinda approach the same damage as an all-generics TIE swarm, but are much more action dependent), so I can't really imagine Juke Torrents would be good.

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Just now, theBitterFig said:

We know that Juke TIE Fighters are bad (with Howlrunner, they kinda approach the same damage as an all-generics TIE swarm, but are much more action dependent), so I can't really imagine Juke Torrents would be good.

Yeah, I thought so as well.  The interesting thing comes from the linked barrel roll to evade to block, and then have other evading Torrents blast the blocked, action-less ship.  Then again, the higher initiative of the Blues makes them less useful blockers.

Ah well, one day I will find a way to make Torrents good (besides using 2 golds with some Jedi, anyway).

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IMO it's probably best to nail down the prices of the aces before we open the floodgates on # of generics per ship type. Most i4+ ships that currently used are undercosted and if most of them go up, then we could have a better idea of which generics could use a decrease. i4+ ships are too easy to "upgrade" your generics to because the point gap is too small which probably needs to be balanced out first. It's probably easier to move things up in points because there's a higher ceiling of point space available than going down where it's closer to ground zero. 

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3 hours ago, RStan said:

IMO it's probably best to nail down the prices of the aces before we open the floodgates on # of generics per ship type. Most i4+ ships that currently used are undercosted and if most of them go up, then we could have a better idea of which generics could use a decrease. i4+ ships are too easy to "upgrade" your generics to because the point gap is too small which probably needs to be balanced out first. It's probably easier to move things up in points because there's a higher ceiling of point space available than going down where it's closer to ground zero. 

I think you have it exactly the opposite way around. Generally, it seems that there's about 1-1.5 points for upping initiative from low level to mid level (and drastic increases beyond that for high level and good abilities). 

I've found when playing with generics that you do want the midt-eir bump to be low, so that people can afford, esp if its a lot of ships, its a multiplicative cost. (for good value though). And while yes, you can mid-tier generics, I think most would agree that high competitive lists generally want you to upgrade the aces, not the generics. Also, the bump in Initiative should be about the same as considering upgrades, so 2-4 points is generally about right. 

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8 hours ago, Gilarius said:

However much I personally like flying 4 E-Wings (done it in quickbuilds: no, it's not over-powered - it's very dice-dependent, so it can win games it has no right to, or lose games it should win) or 5 X-Wings or 6 Interceptors, it's not a good idea.

Keep the baseline at 4 X-Wings per list; adjust the rest to balance around that. Otherwise, you simply make the game take longer and time is already an issue for many lists and therefore fitting tournaments into a day's play.

Unfortunately I'd argue that your point that its "very dice-dependent" isn't too sound if we're talking about 4Es, 5Xs, 6Ints together. The issue is mostly very. The baseline of the game is dice with only focus, which is what the 5Xs and 6Ints would generally be. Its basically a premise level calculation of the game math/a baseline if you will. And that's simply the threshold level of variance. 

Frankly I don't find them too dice-dependent, as I can claim experience playing with lots of generics and having to push myself to the limit of good play to get arcs and have focus against meta-wing, combo-wing targets with innate mods and great mobility for many years now (Since Wave3 1.0). This is why I believe running generic lists are great for player skill and should be encouraged, as it makes flying skills matter most and list building generally matter less. 

--

I don't think "longer" games is really an issue either. For that player, its a choice of mental ability, just like Howl Swarm. For players playing against it, it forces more choices and better play to eke out higher MOV 

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4 hours ago, FatherTurin said:

Yeah, I thought so as well.  The interesting thing comes from the linked barrel roll to evade to block, and then have other evading Torrents blast the blocked, action-less ship.  Then again, the higher initiative of the Blues makes them less useful blockers.

Ah well, one day I will find a way to make Torrents good (besides using 2 golds with some Jedi, anyway).

Yeah, I think its an absolute wash. Don't think they require special nerfing. 

You could try it and batrep it for science? 

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You cannot have perfect balance because nothing exists in a vacuum.

In a single game of x-wing if a swarm is perfectly balanced to a 3 ship list then it will be weaker to that list in a tournament setting where fatigue comes into play after several games in one day. 

Add in that local metas vary wildly and something that is preforming weak in one local meta may be average to decent in a different local meta.

There is also the effect of winning, when a list or archetype wins and gets documented as strong that archetype gets picked up by more players and hits more tables producing more wins and that feeds on itself causing more people to play it generating even more wins. 

Furthermore some ships and pilots fill unique niches that may not be balanced but create a better balance in the overall meta.

Basically you cannot balance everything out. 

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Posted (edited)

I'm most interested in Bw/Ew/Starviper. I'd rather see good loadout options than have more fit. Plasma/Passive may have some potential

EEEE is legal now in QB and it's a meh. Without R3 or R4 the ship is very awkward.

Will FFG even allow 2x Knave/Plasma/R3? Plasma would likely be 9-10, it'd fit at 9 with Knave at current points

Edited by prauxim

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Posted (edited)

I updated my mathematical model to include upgrades.

Mine actually does allow for 5x, 6 interceptors (and strikers!), 4 silencers, 6 TIE/sf (though sf gunner's at 12 IIRC) etc.

It's purely algorithmic (from meta wing data) so it's not based on my personal preferences (otherwise certain changes definitely would not have been made)

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1fZqj7rroGGcAPio285FJ7qOnluaUtixxs508FJq1pwQ/edit#gid=404016399

Edited by ClassicalMoser

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30 minutes ago, Blail Blerg said:

Unfortunately I'd argue that your point that its "very dice-dependent" isn't too sound if we're talking about 4Es, 5Xs, 6Ints together. The issue is mostly very. The baseline of the game is dice with only focus, which is what the 5Xs and 6Ints would generally be. Its basically a premise level calculation of the game math/a baseline if you will. And that's simply the threshold level of variance. 

Frankly I don't find them too dice-dependent, as I can claim experience playing with lots of generics and having to push myself to the limit of good play to get arcs and have focus against meta-wing, combo-wing targets with innate mods and great mobility for many years now (Since Wave3 1.0). This is why I believe running generic lists are great for player skill and should be encouraged, as it makes flying skills matter most and list building generally matter less. 

--

I don't think "longer" games is really an issue either. For that player, its a choice of mental ability, just like Howl Swarm. For players playing against it, it forces more choices and better play to eke out higher MOV 

Two separate issues: 'very dice dependent' is simply how a list behaves when its primary defence or offence is naked dice. A single focus token when being shot at multiple times per turn and also shooting means that most of those dice are unmodified. This is not a criticism of the ships, just an observation. It applies to quite a few ships and is the opposite to big, beefy ships like decimators.

This brings me onto my 2nd point, and the main reason why I am against increasing the baseline to 5 X-wings or 6 Interceptors: individual games take longer to get a result. Aces will take even longer manoeuvring before engaging, because they need the opponent to mess up their positioning otherwise their delicate ships will explode. This encourages very slow play with only a few turns of combat. Addionally, big fat ships like decimators will need further cost cuts or they will die far too fast. This means that the whole game needs every cost changed/rebalanced instead of a handful being adjusted to match the current baseline. A simple trial, to see if I'm right about time, would be to play games with 210 or 220 points instead of 200.

Now, if you want to recost everything, go ahead and playtest it. Report back, just don't expect any sort of consensus on points beforehand!

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24 minutes ago, prauxim said:

I'm most interested in Bw/Ew/Starviper. I'd rather see good loadout options than have more fit. Plasma/Passive may have some potential

EEEE is legal now in QB and it's a meh. Without R3 or R4 the ship is very awkward.

Will FFG even allow 2x Knave/Plasma/R3? Plasma would likely be 9-10, it'd fit at 9 with Knave at current points

Me too. But good load outs is dependent on making good upgrades, and generally FFG has shied away from making strong spammy upgrades. There's no point in trying to make a current upgrade load out fit in 200pt because generally in the past, they've just made better upgrades. 

I do enjoy this world of worse upgrades and less combo wing and innate mods. But one has to note that generally 2.0 upgrades are like 50-75% the power level of 1.0 upgrades. 

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