Jump to content
IndyPendant

The IACP can't truly balance Skirmish without swarms

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

Okay, a couple things first off: I'm making this a forum post in the hopes of getting community feedback; it's always possible my reasoning is flawed after all; and if others agree with me (and perhaps provide additional reasoning in support of my argument), then that will provide greater incentive to the IACP to change their stance.  Second, I would again like to take a moment to sincerely thank the IACP for your efforts.  As I've posted here before, if IA Skirmish is still being played in a year or two, I firmly believe it will be largely due to your efforts.  You don't have to do this, it takes a lot of time and effort, and you'll never be able to please everyone.  So, seriously: thank you again.

And tonight, I'm going to take on the role of a displeased player. ; )

I've seen a few posts now by IACP members, basically making statements that apparently can be summarized as: the IACP does not intend to ever balance regular deployments, or reduce the costs of too many of the low-cost elite deployments, because that would potentially lead to "swarm" play, which they consider to be a NPE (Negative Player Experience).  (And for any that may not know: a swarm list consists of multiple, small-cost activations.  In IA, that would basically look like around 10 or more activations of low cost deployments such as regular Imperial Officers, regular Stormtroopers, regular/elite Probe Droids, etc.)  In my opinion, that stance will severely hinder any balancing efforts for IA, and quite probably make it literally impossible.

Most lists right now (and for a long time now) include a Queen Piece (Hater Vader, FotK IG-88, Jedi Luke, Ezra, etc) that deal a ton of damage and are hard to put down.  The remaining figures largely fall into three main categories: secondary figures that can deal a disproportionate amount of damage for their cost (eRangers, Onar, Greedo, eSentry Droids, etc), support figures that can make the hard-hitting center pieces hit even harder and/or help protect them (Jabba, C-3P0, R2-D2, Hera, etc), and one or two low-cost "camping" figures that are designed to sit beside terminals or gain map points (rOfficers, rHired Guns, rSmugglers, etc).

Those damage-dealing Queen Piece figures need to be taken down as fast and hard as possible; Hater Vader with one health remaining is almost as big a threat as Hater Vader undamaged.  Thus Command Card decks tend to be crammed with as much direct damage-boosting and extra-attack cards as possible.  The remaining pack of cards tend to consist of very good damage mitigation (On the Lam), indirect damage increases (Element of Surprise, Take Initiative), and cards that help the Queen Pieces get into/out of the ranges required (Fleet Footed, Force Rush).

The meta becomes what I call "Build-Smash": spend a few activations building up tokens and Command Cards to spend on 1-3 massive attacks as late as possible in the round (or perhaps as early as possible next round), specifically designed to try to take out the inevitable Queen Piece figures your opponent is fielding.

Every. Single. Game. of Skirmish. currently plays around this central tactic.  There are no viable variations.

So long as swarm lists are discouraged, this problem cannot be resolved!

Swarm lists are the direct counter to these Queen Pieces and Glass Cannons (among other things).  They almost always have been, in most miniatures games, and probably always will be.  When (for example), your largest figure has four hit points, your opponent's hunters will often be hard-pressed to even find a use for Assassinate or Primary Target.  When the most Hater Vader can do on his activation is take out one or maybe two 2-VP figures, then Take Initiative isn't quite so powerful a card.  (It's still very very strong, but its power is at least weakened slightly--even more so when you consider that if the swarm player has initiative, he might at most be able to activate three regular Stormtroopers anyway!)

I've seen posts calling playing against swarms an NPE.  -Of course- they are!  Every list nowadays is tooled up to deal, and perhaps survive, a frankly -absurd- amount of damage per individual attack.  A regular Stormtrooper doesn't care if your attack deals three or thirteen damage to it; it's dead either way.  Suddenly IG-88 has a little more of a struggle to justify his 12 points.  It's no longer automatic to focus Greedo and throw him in the middle of things, or Hondo so that he can do a bazillion damage before he inevitably dies.  The way we've been playing the game, for something like two or three years now, will need to change.

This is a good thing!

Bring swarms back, and players will have to build their lists with swarms in mind.  The rush to the most damage per attack will be lessened, if only a little.  Strategies that were pushed back will become more favourable, and figures on the backburner could become more viable even before changes are applied.  Blast becomes a more appealing option as the figure counts go up.  It becomes at least an option to include figures such as eStormtroopers, specifically to help take out swarm units with three separate attacks.  Cleave and Blast make a comeback.

A new form of gameplay is introduced.  Instead of a race to deal or mitigate the most damage in a single attack, there's a race to try to decrease your opponent's quantity of figures, while he tries to use them to whittle your pieces down bit by bit.  Or, better, he uses the swarm to gather map VPs as much as possible.  If swarms are viable, and your list does not include at least something to handle them, then you will lose.  Also a good thing!  Suddenly it's no longer 100% a race to the maximum damage.  Now we're faced with a difficult decision: how much build-smash, and how much balanced attack against swarms?  Should I add a few regular deployments myself, that can run off to grab map VPs as well?

The game opens up.  Now we have options.

Another concern I've seen expressed is that swarms slow the game down.  Too many options, or something.  Honestly, I don't think this is a valid argument.  (Sorry!)  Again, literally -no one- plays swarms nowadays, because swarms are just not viable.  So no one has experience with swarms, so playing with and against swarms is slower as players try to figure out what to do with this unfamiliar beast.  Familiarity will increase speed.  If it doesn't, call a TO over and force the swarm player to speed up, until they do.  The thing about swarms is: most of the figures have the same (or at least, very similar) stats.  Four rStormtroopers consist of twelve figures...all exactly alike.  How many games did it take players to become familiar with Spectre Cell--just six figures, but each with their own completely different set of attributes, attack and defense styles, and special abilities?  Twenty?  Fifty?

Swarms do not take inherently longer to play than other lists, if players are familiar with playing with (and against) them.

It's also worth noting I'm not advocating a return of the specific Ugnaught Swarm list that very briefly threatened the meta, here.  The vast majority of players hated Ugnaughts, and had some valid reasons for this.  But we can have swarms without Ugnaughts.  It's unlikely that Ugnaughts will make a comeback anyway, with the current maps that don't favour them and the proliferation of popular deployments that can handle them reasonably well or are almost impossible for the Junk Droid to hurt (Hater Vader, Jabba, Sabine, Drokatta, etc).

And there already exist natural counters to (non-Ugnaught) swarms.  A swarm player will have a very hard time taking out Hater Vader, or avoiding a Bantha Rider trampling them by the handful.  Swarms will struggle winning on maps without recharging VPs (such as the Gangster side of Maul's Alley map).  A well-placed Grenadier or Parting Gift can utterly ruin a swarm's day.  Vinto is almost overpowered against swarms.  Jabba loves all the bonus VPs.  There are many many more examples I could cite, if needed.

Swarms are not a NPE; it's just that, because they don't allow us to play with all the tools we have been conditioned to include in every single list, they seem to take away our toys, and we never like that.  What swarms provide are new gameplay options that help mitigate--or even directly counter--the current meta that consists exclusively of piling on the absolute maximum damage we can into one attack or a small handful of attacks.

Edit: mostly typo corrections.

Edited by IndyPendant

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Solid post. Very good. I can't say for sure that swarm-swarm will be something, or should, but your arguments are good. Funnily, perhaps the way to solve eStorms, is actually to give rStorms a +2 damage surge, instead of the +1. They'd be real squishy, but could deal damage to lesser figures.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I totally agree with this. While I agree with the fear of NPE around huge amounts of figures on the board, I feel the NPE of the single round games that we to a large externt have today really needs to be adressed. The game would be a lot more fun if we could get away from Round 2 decides the game .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

As a member of the steering committee and probably the one who is most cautious about pushing "swarms" allow me to respond to your well thought out post. For reference my idea of balance comes from high end competitive play, especially in timed tournament formats. I will also add that I do have experience playing swarms in this format, both as a swarm (won nationals with an ugnaught swarm '17) and against swarms (faced the Janway riot swarm aka North Carolina Swarm at nationals '18).

So we're on the same page lets define what a swarm is:

A list that utilizes a large group of low value figures that don't offer significant reward for killing. These lists often have low damage output, but make up for it by dominating objectives with high figure counts. 

First, I think it's worth noting that the steering committee is committed to keeping the meta fresh and fun, which to us means a variety of archetypes should be viable. We would like to take a slow approach to achieving this, meaning we don't want to completely shake things up to a point where the meta is unrecognizable. 

Another goal is increasing the number of units that are viable. There is a limit on how many units can be viable, just due to the fact that many units are very similar to each other. From that sense, the units that have the best cost/health/damage ratios will generally rise to the top. 

So let's talk about regular deployments. Functionally a regular stormtrooper could be buffed to being as good as an elite stormtrooper making the only difference the number of deployments you're allowed to bring. Elites could also be buffed via point deductions to fill the role of cheap swarmy units, without allowing players to bring 4 groups. 

By limiting the number of groups players can bring, lists will be less homogeneous. Elite stormtroopers could be paired with Elite jets, Elite Riots, and Regular riots to make a good swarm. 

Compare that to buffing regular stormtroopers. If regular stormtroopers become the go-to swarm unit, swarm units will automatically have 4 groups. It's very very hard to balance the units to a point where it would be worth it to bring less than a full complement (either they're worth bringing and you take 4 groups, or they're not worth bringing at all). 

The limit of 2 groups presents all kinds of design benefits and I think it's worth noting that FFG has also almost universally under-powered regular deployments. 

Also consider that a swarm list CAN be achieved without requiring 4x of a regular deployment

With those design goals in mind we have focused on the elite deployments for now. 

 

As far as whether swarms can be NPE or if they slow the game down here is a long rant about it. Keep in mind i'm not completely against a swarm archetype, but it's important to be conscious of how this type of archetype can potentially affect the game. 

Keep this in mind-> The more figures on the board, the longer each round will take. This is especially true for units that need to take advanced positions such as riots.

The biggest slowdowns in the game are players deciding which group to activate next, and where to move each figure. For support figures like 3p0, r2, jabba, and imperial officers activations are very quick. These figures are always activated first in round 1, and their priority drops significantly in later rounds, cutting the time to decide which group to activate. These figures often don't move into contested positions so their activations are very straight forward. A riot swarm from very early in round 1 must make difficult decisions regarding the position of their figures compared to where their opponent is postured. Often these units are left exposed from as early as the 3rd activation round 1. Often the first group of riots takes as long or longer to activate as a group of weequays, or a big queen piece. 

Consider that the N.C. riot swarm has 6 groups of riots to activate (and 2 officers). While round 1 for most lists flies by, the swarm player has tough choices to make for each of these activations. By the end of round 1 the riot player has spent significantly longer activating compared to the non-swarm player. Keep in mind this has nothing to do with intentionally stalling, this is just the nature of the list. Starting round 2 the riot player still takes longer to play, especially in choosing which group to activate next. 

It has been claimed that since the figures are exactly the same, they should activate faster, but the opposite is true in later rounds. Since the figures are so similar, it's solely positioning that determines which group a player should activate next. This is often a very subtle and very time consuming decision. The decision of when to activate groups that vary wildly in power level is much easier than choosing which riot group to activate. (example: early round 2, do I activate Rangers first or Hera? Usually an easy choice). 

Swarm players also have an incentive to slow the game down. The queen lists win by killing the swarm. The swarm list wins by getting ahead on objective points and then stalling the game until time expires. In a tournament setting with 65 minute matches, swarms will often not get out of round 3 and almost never out of round 4. Time is often called on these matches with scores in the 20-30 VP range. There is no bigger NPE than this. Again this is not achieved by intentionally stalling, but just a natural effect of the list. The riot player would need to rush to keep up the pace of play with other lists, but has no reason to rush. The non-swarm player actually needs to play as fast as possible to ensure that round 4 is reached. 

To buff the swarm archetype means buffing the ability for the archetype to stall. Making swarm units cheaper increases the number of figures on the board, increasing the number of decisions/activations, slowing the game down. Increasing the health of these units makes them harder to kill, making more units left on the board in later rounds that need to activate, slowing the game down. Increasing their attack moves their playstyle closer in line with other types of lists, defeating the purpose of a "swarm" archetype. 

In conclusion, I think swarms are achievable, but buffing regular deployments to the point of viability will make it harder to increase the number of viable units. Point denial strategies have the potential to be extremely frustrating, and we need to be conscious about how powerful we make units capable of achieving this strategy. I'd also like to add that if you feel that you have a good idea to balance a cheap regular deployment group like regular stormtroopers, we're listening. 

 

Edited by brettpkelly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Keep in mind that my viewpoint is strictly outside tournament so everything I said might be totally wrong due to the timing involved: I don't play tournaments and I never tell my players about the time limit, we'd play until someone reaches 40VP or one of our army is wiped out, however many rounds that would take

 

I agree with this post in general however I don't think this is solely something IACP has created. I have made many, many posts previously about the ability to do outrageous amount of damage in one shot, hence in-turn necessitating every other figure to be HP-buffed or become mini-queens. The solution should be to tune down that power curve (nerf the queen pieces) to an acceptable level instead of buffing every playable figure so that they can take the hit from the queen pieces, that in my opinion is the wrong direction to take. Right now most non-queen pieces have a fairly high chance of being wiped out in 1 attack by queen pieces which again necessitates buffing the non-queen pieces upward so that they can do something useful before they die, nerfing the queen pieces instead would solve those problems:

1. non-queens needs to be buffed so that they can do something useful before they die

2. queens needs to be buffed so that they can take the super-charged shot from other queens

 

The biggest flaw of my argument? time limit: when I play at home or in stores there's no such thing as "the game will end after 65min". We play however long it would take for one of us to get to 40 VP or until either side is wiped out (the 2nd rarely ever happen). I understand this is not true for tournament plays. For example, I think Thrawn and Palpatine are actually much lesser threats in tournament vs non-tournaments since it's not uncommon for games to run to Round 4 or 5 because the 65min time limit is removed

just my 2c

TL;DR: let's remove the ability to do supercharged attacks than buffing figures

Edited by ricope

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Very good post, Brett. I understand the aspect of tournament play and I feel the priorities that you have set up are the correct ones. But just to elaborate, the time issue with swarms can be solved in a pretty good way by just adding a chess clock. I already today strongly dislike the slow play aspect of the game so for me it would be an improvement swarms or no. Another interesting approach would be to limit the number of elite deployments to one per type. Also, with lower costs of Rancors and Bantha riders, swarm play would be a gamble as well.

 

Edited by Ram

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Chess clocks are an interesting idea, but they will bring a new set of problems. The basic rules of a chess clock is that you lose when your time runs out UNLESS your opponent has no capacity of putting you in checkmate -- if your clock runs out, you have a queen and king left and your opponent just has a king, you would win instead of lose.

Trying to figure out this "UNLESS your opponent can't win" game state is immensely more complicated in IA, since we'll have to make the clock rules balance with VPs, finishing a full round of activations before the game ends & other rules that make IA explicitly different from chess.

Personally I'd rather just slightly increase the time limit of tournament matches from 65 to 75 minutes. This is the same length of a game in X-Wing and should provide even two swarm players enough time to get into the 3rd round of play. Casual play can remain untimed if desired.

Edit: if 75 minutes proves to be too long of a time for larger tournaments -- and if we have larger tournaments, IA Skirmish will be back, baby! -- then it can be reduced to 70 minutes. Armada has something like 90+ minutes per game, IIRC, and they still have regionals with 20+ participants.

Edited by cnemmick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm all for a chess block but there are a couple other complications. Due to the prevalence of interrupt type mechanics it's hard to determine when to stop the clock for each player, especially during attacks. Might be worth figuring out how to implement something like this though

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ugnaughts and junk droid definitely need a boost.

 

I always thought with the cost of the assassin droids and their low health that a +2 surge wasn't out of the question. It certainly seems so now with the amount of defensive tokens.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/24/2019 at 2:23 PM, cnemmick said:

Trying to figure out this "UNLESS your opponent can't win" game state is immensely more complicated in IA,

And this is unneeded. I have seen different solutions in different games. For example: if you have no time left, you do not get to make your moves, attacks and so on. Your opponent continues play for the time that left him, and if he can win in this time, then he does. If not, check for the win conditions to see who win

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the ultimate problem with the chess clock in this, and similar games, is that your opponent also has to do stuff on your turn. Is it your clock ticking, while he considers to play OtL or not?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, aermet69 said:

I think the ultimate problem with the chess clock in this, and similar games, is that your opponent also has to do stuff on your turn. Is it your clock ticking, while he considers to play OtL or not?

This actually isn't that bad of a problem.  If your opponent indicates they want to think about a decision, you just hit the clock.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

tbh, this system worked well for me in other games. As DTDanix said, you can always hit the clock. 

A little bigger problem is with stuff happening out of any player time (like, end of turn effects). But I think clock could be hit anyway.

I think me and my friends will try to play with 30 minutes per player, expecting total game time to be around 70 minutes at max

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@IndyPendant What are your thoughts on limiting regular deployment groups to 2 of any deployment, similar to elite groups?

I can't think of many lists where this matters (sometimes people bring 3 rOfficers, or a rRiot swarm, and honestly there are enough options now that forcing a little diversity doesn't seem bad) and it makes the design space a bit easier where we don't have to worry about abuse of some cheap regular deployment group.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd be fine with it. Then I only need to buy two more Jawas :) Only thing is, it seems odd that there is no difference between elite and regular - except one is generally more expensive and has better stats. I guess if it was like this from the beginning, then I'd just think exactly that about it though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, aermet69 said:

Only thing is, it seems odd that there is no difference between elite and regular - except one is generally more expensive and has better stats.

That's really the entire point of the Regular / Elite version dynamic. Not exactly "odd" at all...

Can you imagine the chaos that players (Campaign or Skirmish) would endure if the function of a regular unit was significantly different from the Elite?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Thank you everyone for your comments!  Some interesting conversations here, happy to see them. : )  For now, I'm going to focus on a few key points relevant to my original post:

On 6/23/2019 at 2:08 PM, brettpkelly said:

So let's talk about regular deployments. Functionally a regular stormtrooper could be buffed to being as good as an elite stormtrooper making the only difference the number of deployments you're allowed to bring. Elites could also be buffed via point deductions to fill the role of cheap swarmy units, without allowing players to bring 4 groups. 

By limiting the number of groups players can bring, lists will be less homogeneous. Elite stormtroopers could be paired with Elite jets, Elite Riots, and Regular riots to make a good swarm. 

Compare that to buffing regular stormtroopers. If regular stormtroopers become the go-to swarm unit, swarm units will automatically have 4 groups. It's very very hard to balance the units to a point where it would be worth it to bring less than a full complement (either they're worth bringing and you take 4 groups, or they're not worth bringing at all).  

At the risk of taking this out of context, I'm going to focus in on this snippet for now.  I have a few concerns here:

First, one of the advantages of a swarm is that many/all of the units possess the exact same stats.  Varying the deployments while keeping the figure count up is almost like keeping the worst of both worlds; the game -will- almost certainly slow down at that point.  If we're trying to make swarms viable, I'd actually rather recommend against this method, frankly.

Second, what's wrong with 4 rStormtroopers?  If I understand correctly, I think you're saying your concern is that in this scenario, rStormtroopers would become like Spectre Cell: just those, some support, and we're done.  However, I'm not sure that's fair if so: unmodified, 4 rStormtroopers represent 24/40 points.  Zillo Technique and rOfficers aren't auto-includes in a swarm list, so that leaves a full 16 points to play around with.  I expect there would be variation.

Third, and most importantly: a 'mini-swarm' of Elites does literally nothing to mitigate the current Build/Smash meta we have.  eStormtroopers are worth focused and/or hidden attacks, to be certain of removal.  eJets and eRiots have 7 health each and a minor defensive bonus; their opponent almost certainly will find uses for their powerful hunter cards, and IG-99 will easily recoup his point value attacking 3 and 4-point figures, etc.  Nothing will have changed except that the swarm figures are more likely to be removed in one Build/Smash attack.  (Which is, btw, I think why we haven't heard of any success stories yet with the reduced-cost eStormtroopers.  7 points for Deployment is still 9 way-too-easy kill points for the opponent to collect.)

On 6/23/2019 at 2:08 PM, brettpkelly said:

The biggest slowdowns in the game are players deciding which group to activate next, and where to move each figure. For support figures like 3p0, r2, jabba, and imperial officers activations are very quick. These figures are always activated first in round 1, and their priority drops significantly in later rounds, cutting the time to decide which group to activate. These figures often don't move into contested positions so their activations are very straight forward. A riot swarm from very early in round 1 must make difficult decisions regarding the position of their figures compared to where their opponent is postured. Often these units are left exposed from as early as the 3rd activation round 1. Often the first group of riots takes as long or longer to activate as a group of weequays, or a big queen piece.  

Consider that the N.C. riot swarm has 6 groups of riots to activate (and 2 officers). While round 1 for most lists flies by, the swarm player has tough choices to make for each of these activations. By the end of round 1 the riot player has spent significantly longer activating compared to the non-swarm player. Keep in mind this has nothing to do with intentionally stalling, this is just the nature of the list. Starting round 2 the riot player still takes longer to play, especially in choosing which group to activate next.  

It has been claimed that since the figures are exactly the same, they should activate faster, but the opposite is true in later rounds. Since the figures are so similar, it's solely positioning that determines which group a player should activate next. This is often a very subtle and very time consuming decision. The decision of when to activate groups that vary wildly in power level is much easier than choosing which riot group to activate. (example: early round 2, do I activate Rangers first or Hera? Usually an easy choice). 

Now, here I have to operate more on theory than experience, because we haven't seen very many swarms in action.  It seems to me like you've had a game against swarms in a tournament setting, and it was a NPE primarily due to the swarm player taking longer than normal.  If so, I have a few comments about the snippet I've quoted above:

First, that is anecdotal.  I may still be wrong, but one tournament does not counter my theory.  My theory is untested--but it can't be tested until and unless swarms become viable.

Second, your argument seems to be that swarms will take more time because in Build/Smash lists, the order of activations are often obvious: build then smash first round, and smash then (if anything is left) build second round.  Consider though that in a Build/Smash list, the slowdown happens in the second half of the round, because positioning the queen pieces is crucial to winning.  In a swarm list, the fewer activations left, the faster the round can become, since it often doesn't much matter which particular swarm unit is taken off the board.  (Not always, but often.)  Again, I do think that any slowdowns from swarm playing is due to unfamiliarity--on both sides!--and not from any inherent flaws in playing swarms.  Consider that in X-Wing, swarms are used all the time, often with multiple types of ships, and while people comment they can be harder to fly, rarely are there complaints that they're slower to fly.  (There are differences: swarms often choose the same maneuver, allowing them to behave as one ship, for example.  But there are certainly enough similarities for the comparison to be valid!)

Third, I actually disagree that figures that vary wildly in power level are easier to choose to activate in later rounds.  This is often an agonizing decision!  ("Do I activate my focused and wounded Onar and hope he takes out the wounded Hater Vader that is threatening my IG-88?  If I succeed, nothing else can kill my IG-88 before it activates, attacks, and flees.  However, if Onar fails to kill Vader, then I probably lose both of them!  If I activate IG-88 first he will probably survive, but then Onar will be an easy kill for my opponent before I can activate him.  And then there's Greedo and Palpatine to consider...")  These are hard choices to make--but over dozens, often hundreds, of Build/Smash games, we've learned to make them reasonably quickly.  Again, I turn to Spectre Cell: think back to your early games playing with and against them.  Did those early games with those complex, unique, and intricately-interactive figures bog down so that you were lucky to get past Round 2 within the time limit?  Mine sure did!  And Ugnaught Swarms were a thing for a while; no one seemed to be complaining they were slowing the game down.  (Again, not advocating a return of Ugnaughts. ; )

On 6/23/2019 at 2:08 PM, brettpkelly said:

In conclusion, I think swarms are achievable, but buffing regular deployments to the point of viability will make it harder to increase the number of viable units. Point denial strategies have the potential to be extremely frustrating, and we need to be conscious about how powerful we make units capable of achieving this strategy. I'd also like to add that if you feel that you have a good idea to balance a cheap regular deployment group like regular stormtroopers, we're listening. 

My primary (but not only!) motivation for promoting swarms is to try to mitigate the single-strategy Build/Smash meta we have.  Swarms of Elite deployments will not do anything for that.  (And I'm not even sure they can ever be viable as swarms, unless either their cost is reduced so they effectively become Regular deployments, or their attacks are buffed which effectively changes them into hard-hitting center pieces.  Either way though, Elites have enough hitpoints that the Build/Smash meta remains essentially unchanged.)

On 6/26/2019 at 12:21 PM, DTDanix said:

@IndyPendant What are your thoughts on limiting regular deployment groups to 2 of any deployment, similar to elite groups?

I can't think of many lists where this matters (sometimes people bring 3 rOfficers, or a rRiot swarm, and honestly there are enough options now that forcing a little diversity doesn't seem bad) and it makes the design space a bit easier where we don't have to worry about abuse of some cheap regular deployment group.

Now this idea I think has legs.  However, I do see an issue with (again) forcing variation into a Swarm list.  Swarms can have variation of course, don't get me wrong--but variation is by definition harder to play, and therefore usually becomes slower.  My concern here is the following imaginary scenario: the IACP tries buffs swarms a bit so they're at least possibly viable, but keeps a 2-rDeployment limit; players play swarms of (for example, assuming adjusted point costs permitted) 2 rStormtroopers, 2 rSnowtroopers, 2rRiots, and 2rJets; games slow way down because players have doubled/tripled the figures on the board while maintaining the same degree of Deployment variance; the playerbase concludes "Swarms aren't viable!".

 

How about this: can we try it?  Make some adjustments to make only rTrooper swarms viable: Stormtroopers/Wing Guards/Rebel Troopers.  See if Swarms do cause issues with the game; if they do, analyze the issues and try to determine if Swarms are inherently NPE, or if those adjustments need tweaking.  I'm not sure what could do this, honestly.  But here are some off-the-cuff ideas that are probably flawed, but might get players thinking toward a better, more viable option:

1) Have these Deployments cost 5 instead of 6.  These figures gain the ability "Cannon Fodder: When this figure is defeated, if there are two figures remaining on the map belonging to this Deployment Group, your opponent gains no VPs for this figure."

2) Again, Deployments cost 5 instead of 6.  These figures gain the ability "Push Them Out Of The Way But Stand There Like A Chump And Take The Shot Yourself: When a space adjacent to you is declared the target of an attack that could target you, the attack targets you instead.  Limit once per round per Deployment Group."

3) Deployments cost 5 (running theme).  The Deployments gain the ability "Beta Testers: Attachments do not cost any additional points when attached to these Deployments, nor do they provide additional VPs when the last figure in the group is defeated."

(Again, there's probably flaws that can be exposed in each of these options.  My goal is to get us thinking about making Swarms viable, not necessarily to say that these specific ideas should be used. ; )

Edited by IndyPendant

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just throwing another thought out here: if swarm groups = players taking longer to take actions = running out of time, then perhaps the time allocated is not sufficient or there should be a better measurement than "game over after X minutes"?

in a typical non-tournament games with no time restrictions, you can reasonably expect the game will end with someone having 40VP either by killing enough figures or gaining enough VP through other means (ex. objectives, command cards...) and most games run until Round 4 sometimes Round 5 or on rare occasions even Round 6 or 7. However in a tournament game you can reasonably expect that the game will usually end in Round 3, rarely Round 4, sometimes you won't even get past Round 2, it just doesn't feel right that if somebody decide to play tournament games it might be a toss-up between game-over by 40VP or game-over by time

take an imaginary example: it is currently Round 3, I have 20 VP and my opponent have 25 VP, I'm setting up my figures to gun down my opponent's Rogue Han Solo 10VP, but the 65min was called mid-Round 3 and I lost 20VP : 25VP

but suppose this was in a non-tournament setting, in which case we continue playing until someone reaches 40VP. Han Solo was eliminated by the end of Round 3 and I won 42:35 on Round 5

My point being time should not be a factor that decides the winner, in the above example, even under the exact same scenario the victor would be swapped if you're playing tournament vs. non-tournament because of the time limit

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Time is an absolute necessity in a tournament structure where the rounds have to fit into an allotted amount of time in the day.

suggesting the game can be played without it is delusional 

edit; also, time is not the deciding factor. What you did with the time allotted to you IS

Edited by Majushi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/28/2019 at 12:01 AM, IndyPendant said:

Now this idea I think has legs.  However, I do see an issue with (again) forcing variation into a Swarm list.  Swarms can have variation of course, don't get me wrong--but variation is by definition harder to play, and therefore usually becomes slower.  My concern here is the following imaginary scenario: the IACP tries buffs swarms a bit so they're at least possibly viable, but keeps a 2-rDeployment limit; players play swarms of (for example, assuming adjusted point costs permitted) 2 rStormtroopers, 2 rSnowtroopers, 2rRiots, and 2rJets; games slow way down because players have doubled/tripled the figures on the board while maintaining the same degree of Deployment variance; the playerbase concludes "Swarms aren't viable!".

 

How about this: can we try it?  Make some adjustments to make only rTrooper swarms viable: Stormtroopers/Wing Guards/Rebel Troopers.  See if Swarms do cause issues with the game; if they do, analyze the issues and try to determine if Swarms are inherently NPE, or if those adjustments need tweaking.  I'm not sure what could do this, honestly.  But here are some off-the-cuff ideas that are probably flawed, but might get players thinking toward a better, more viable option:

1) Have these Deployments cost 5 instead of 6.  These figures gain the ability "Cannon Fodder: When this figure is defeated, if there are two figures remaining on the map belonging to this Deployment Group, your opponent gains no VPs for this figure."

2) Again, Deployments cost 5 instead of 6.  These figures gain the ability "Push Them Out Of The Way But Stand There Like A Chump And Take The Shot Yourself: When a space adjacent to you is declared the target of an attack that could target you, the attack targets you instead.  Limit once per round per Deployment Group."

3) Deployments cost 5 (running theme).  The Deployments gain the ability "Beta Testers: Attachments do not cost any additional points when attached to these Deployments, nor do they provide additional VPs when the last figure in the group is defeated."

(Again, there's probably flaws that can be exposed in each of these options.  My goal is to get us thinking about making Swarms viable, not necessarily to say that these specific ideas should be used. ; )

I like this creativity! Here's my thoughts on it:

#2 is more of a Guardian type ability. I like that Trooper swarms can be played to block line of sight and force your opponent to attack them instead of your more valuable units. I think that can be accomplished with good positioning, not abilities. Your suggestion in #2 would be much better for Guardian deployments that don't have the luxury of taking up 3 spaces with 3 figures.

#3 is an ok idea, but there's not really any Trooper skirmish attachments that will help currently. Additionally I think that breaking the rule that every Deployment attachment adds its cost in VPs is something to look at for other Deployments. But I don't think it's thematic to regular Stormtroopers.

#1 is the direction I would prefer. It fits the theme of Stormtroopers: the Empire really doesn't care how many they lose, they just send more and more towards you. However, in your implementation, you are setting up a situation where the rStormtrooper player can lose a figure, replace it with Reinforcements, lose a figure, replace it, lose a figure... and give up a total of 0 VPs for 3 figures defeated. That's an unfair trade, especially if 2 groups of rStormtroopers are spread out, making it difficult to defeat 2 figures from the same deployment.

It was @DTDanix's idea to drop Elite Stormies down to 7/3 for IACP. 5/2 for regular Stormies seems appropriate as well. In order to fix the "give up more VPs than you spent in Deployment cost" problem for Stormtroopers - something our playtesters specifically addressed as a weakness - I want lean into reducing the VPs without making it too favorable towards the deployment. So I'd like to add the following ability to both rStormies (at 5/2) and eStormies (at 7/3):

Expendable: When the first figure of this group is defeated, it is worth 1 VP.

What do y'all think about that?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Majushi said:

Time is an absolute necessity in a tournament structure where the rounds have to fit into an allotted amount of time in the day.

suggesting the game can be played without it is delusional 

edit; also, time is not the deciding factor. What you did with the time allotted to you IS

I didn't say allow endless time otherwise people would be there all day. My point being you would see 2 very different outcome if the game is played until 65min vs. until let's say game-end (someone reaches 40VP) at 90min, and imo the result at the 90min mark should be more heavily weighted because it is the "true" outcome, the problem is that you won't even see this outcome because at the 65min mark the judge would call "time's up"

on that note, you could also have different outcome depending on what time you cut off the game at (ex. at 30min you might lose 15VP : 20VP but at 35min you might win at 27VP : 22VP), that doesn't seem right to me because it's an arbitrary cutoff and isn't what "eventually would have happened"

alternate suggestion: instead of imposing a flat-65min rule for both players, chop down the time into individual action (ex. you must decide which group to activate in 30sec/1min, note this does not include actual attacking or dice rolls or command cards), it's how I cut down the time during campaign missions for AP players: after the initial mission briefing they have ~3min to discuss, but during a round they (4 players collectively as a group) have 1min to decide which hero to activate to do what. I think 30sec or 1min for a 1v1 skirmish is fair

Edited by ricope

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...