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FatherTurin

What Do People Mean By “Pay To Win?”

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So I’ve seen one complaint or concern become increasingly common regarding Armada, namely that it is (or is becoming) “pay to win.”

Quite simply, I don’t understand what people mean by this.  In my experience and understanding, pay to win is usually a phenomenon in video games (especially “freemium” games) where players who pay get a distinct advantage over players who do not pay.  Stuff like special versions of powerful planes in War Thunder, ships in Dreadnought, etc (actually all of those style of games have a pay to win aspect).

As far as physical tabletop games I’ve only seen pay to win applied to games with a collectible aspect.  CCGs like Magic are one example, but the one that really sticks out is Heroclix (or anything by WizKids) where it’s a combination of dropping cash on bricks of boosters plus buying special super powerful (usually broken) organized play pieces that means a player with more cash has a distinct advantage.

Ok.  That, I get.

How in the world does it apply to non collectible games?  I’ve seen it tossed around in reference to 40K, X-Wing, and recently Armada.  This are games with static expansions in the form of game components to expand your collection.  There are no secrets, no blind boosters, no randomness to consider.  There’s no “gate” or “paywall” between free players and paid players, everyone needs to buy in to this game, and every additional ship is an expansion to your current collection that expands your options.

I mean, yes, you need to spend money to remain current with the game, but on the flip side, Armada has shockingly good balance now that a few of the kinks have been ironed out.  There are few (if any) “dead cards” that are utterly useless, and nearly any fleet composition imaginable is viable.  Sure, TRC still being available in only one expansion is super annoying, but that is the most mild type of “p2w” I can imagine.

In my mind, “pay to win” mean those guys with the massive collections (we’ve all seen the photos on that other thread)  will always beat every other player.  Pay to win would mean that 1 in every 6 ISDs came with Vader commander, not “I have to buy another ship for this game.”

I guess I just don’t get it.  Are we coming at this term from different positions?

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4 minutes ago, FatherTurin said:

So I’ve seen one complaint or concern become increasingly common regarding Armada, namely that it is (or is becoming) “pay to win.”

Links? 

I can't imagine someone actually believing that. Maybe because the newer ships have a higher price point, but realistically even the SSD at $200 MSRP isn't terribly good at 400 points, there's even a thread dedicated to ranking people by how many they've destroyed lol

Sounds to me like the people who said this don't fully understand the idea of paying to win.

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I think there was a real fear with the SSD that they would lock an amazing must own ubiquitous upgrade behind it, forcing everyone to shell out $200, or multiple $200's, in order to be competitive. They CERTAINLY COULD HAVE done that. If they were a mobile game dev, you bet they wouldn't think twice to do it. 

They kind of did it in X-Wing with the huge ships there.

But they didn't do it here. Armada remains, with a few exceptions such as trc, a game you can be competitive at with 1 of everything, which I think is a fair standard to set. 

There are useful cards in the SSD. They are all unique and faction locked, and none of them are so powerful you cant live without them. That is fortunately pretty far from pay to win.

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In the aspect of 40k, I've seen in thrown about a few times as players can shell out thousands of dollars to play the top tier armies. Like Grey Knights, while less well off players use what they can get (I like Guard... so I am building a 10 tank Guard army...). In 40ks case, the games balance is generally caused by constant inbalance. There are enough factions and rules that its almost impossible for you to build to fight EVERY situation.

For Armada, I could understand if they mean trying to get ships that are currently out of stock. Its a pain.

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Posted (edited)

I think it's been brought up or at least hinted at with regards to the increased price of the most recent expansions. But in general, concerns of pay-to-win come up in non-collectible wargames when;

1) When new/updated models periodically obselete old models/factions. Basically, power creep specifically for the sake of selling new stuff, especially the most expensive kits. 40k was extremely guilty of this during the 5th-7th edition era, but X-wing 1.0 was also accused of this during the second half of its run.

2) When important upgrades/options are found only in expensive kits, or kits that people may not otherwise want. X-wing 1.0's huge ships are a big example, as are some smaller kits like the Starviper, which was the only expansion to contain the vital Autothrusters card for maybe 2 years, which was the only countermeasure arc dodgers had against their expensive abilities being nullified by Turrets just existing.

 

The former isn't really a problem thus far, but the second is a potential problem. The SSD is a very expensive purchase; while the cost/time spent isn't bad by any means as @Drasnighta has pointed out, it being concentrated in a single expenditure makes it difficult for those on a lower gaming budget. It doesn't seem to be exceptionally strong*, but it does contain upgrade cards that are usable by regular ships, which rankles people a bit, especially as a few of them are frequently requested characters.

 

*It does seem like it may fall into a bit of a gatekeeping role, though, much like Imperial Knights do for 40k. Not overpowered in general, but capable of completely ruining an unexpecting player's day if they're unprepared in a way something that makes up a smaller portion of your list can't do (if the model is balanced, at least). This was probably unavoidable, but it's not ideal. For the sake of the community, a gentleman's agreement not to go seal clubbing with the SSD is critical.

13 minutes ago, Ginkapo said:

Its when a player buys multiple rogue and villians so they can run a YV666 swarm. 

Jokes aside, the rather absurd cost of 8 YT-2400s is actually a decent example. If they were just a little bit better, I would definitely call the YT-2400 swarm pay-to-win

Edited by Squark

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I own a Pelta, i do not have a chimera or ssd. I am now in a situation where i have to buy one of the two most expensive imperial expansions to make my mid price rebel expansion broadly competitive.

Not sure if thats pay to win, but it sure tastes the same.

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Posted (edited)

Armada is not too bad, but there are a few hard-to-get cards which can up the cost if you don't play both factions or want all ships.

Key examples include:
 - Admirals (though these at least stay in-faction)
 - Skilled First Officer (Liberty expansion, though there is an alt art)
 - Hondo & External Racks (Hamerhead expansion, though common 2nd hand as some people buy two sets, and there is an alt art ExRacks)

 - Flight Controllers (VSD & SSD)

 - Intensify Firepower (Chimera & SSD)
 - Reinforced Blast Doors & Dual Turbolaser Turrets (Arquitens)

 - XI7 Turbolasers (Nebulon-B and SSD, though there is an alt art)

 - Turbolaser Reroute Circuits (though there is an alt art)

 - Slicer Tools (Gozanti)

 

As you can see many of these have been rectified by an alt-art, which makes them much easier to acquire, or come in packs people tend to acquire more than one of. A couple though  are still quite rare, though the SSD seems to have some - still it does seem to be easier for Imperials...

Overall though I don't really think Armada is 'play-to-win' though - if you do need any specific card there are always options, and an absolute limit on how much more you need to spend. There are also alternatives - perhaps not quite as good, but I think there's very little that is genuinely not doable without a specific card.

Besides, I know no Armada players who wouldn't lend stuff to another player!

Edited by Hedgehogmech

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2 minutes ago, Hedgehogmech said:

Armada is not too bad, but there are a few hard-to-get cards which can up the cost if you don't play both factions or want all ships.

Key examples include:
 - Admirals (though these at least stay in-faction)
 - Skilled First Officer (Liberty expansion, though there is an alt art)
 - Hondo & External Racks (Hamerhead expansion, though common 2nd hand as some people buy two sets)

 - Flight Controllers (VSD & SSD)

 - Intensify Firepower (Chimera & SSD)
 - Reinforced Blast Doors & Dual Turbolaser Turrets (Arquitens)

 - XI7 Turbolasers (Nebulon-B and SSD, though there is an alt art)

 - Turbolaser Reroute Circuits (though there is an alt art)

 - Slicer Tools (Gozanti)

 

As you can see many of these have been rectified by an alt-art, which makes them much easier to acquire, or come in packs people tend to acquire more than one of. A couple though  are still quite rare, though the SSD seems to have some - still it does seem to be easier for Imperials...
 

When I first got into the game as an imperial player I had a real hard time getting any SFO or Exracks. Keeping an eye on eBay for originals and alt arts will get you what you want with a little patience.

Ironically after all that effort, I don’t see SFO used that much any more.

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Just now, ISD Avenger said:

When I first got into the game as an imperial player I had a real hard time getting any SFO, TRCs or Exracks. Keeping an eye on eBay for originals and alt arts will get you what you want with a little patience.

Ironically after all that effort, I don’t see SFO used that much any more.

 

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36 minutes ago, CMDR Kastor said:

I own a Pelta, i do not have a chimera or ssd. I am now in a situation where i have to buy one of the two most expensive imperial expansions to make my mid price rebel expansion broadly competitive.

Not sure if thats pay to win, but it sure tastes the same.

Please dont feel like you need to double down on the pelta. Intensify firepower isnt particularly powerful. 

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Maybe these concerns are creeping in because we are getting new players that cant find product in stock? I dunno.

I guess if you look at the top lists you would have to buy a lot of expansions to get all the specific cards and sqns.

And the new expansions (starhawk and onager) both look like they are going to be over $100 bucks retail here in Australia. If the new meta lists require these ships (let alone multiple) to build a top list i could see people having that concern.

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Just now, Ophion said:

Maybe these concerns are creeping in because we are getting new players that cant find product in stock? I dunno.

I guess if you look at the top lists you would have to buy a lot of expansions to get all the specific cards and sqns.

And the new expansions (starhawk and onager) both look like they are going to be over $100 bucks retail here in Australia. If the new meta lists require these ships (let alone multiple) to build a top list i could see people having that concern.

If the new meta lists require these ships, then you need to see what you can do to *counter* that meta without using it...   That sort of thought is how we get HTT/HIE working to deal with SSDs when you don't have one :D

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3 hours ago, Ginkapo said:

Please dont feel like you need to double down on the pelta. Intensify firepower isnt particularly powerful. 

Plus the new Corvette title grants access to fleet commands doesn’t it?

Also he could probably just buy that card. Its like 9 bucks on Ebay.

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I would also say the direction that ffg seems to be moving into now seems more promising in counter to the P2W theory, they seem to be moving into only spot purchases to upgrade/stay relevant in your faction. Xwing/Legion are coming out with card packs that have upgrades across all factions and with key cards that previous factions didn't have access to. Armada is likely doing this in the form of campaign boxes. So the stuff that is expected to be more popular or game changing would be in the occasional packs while ship expansions would carry niche cards or that work best only for that ship

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3 hours ago, player3691565 said:

It’s when you buy 7 cr90s  packs and 7 mc30 packs so you can run a CR90 tubolaser rerout Msu list.....

LTT might help to substitute some of them :) provides AA flak to help against squadrons too

 

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6 hours ago, Atromix said:

*Cries in 8th Ed Grey Knights*

*does not pity 8th ed Grey Knights*

*Remembers being tabled before my first turn because of teleporting mega death machines that entered close combat with my tau by teleporting three dreadknights into my deployment zone and attacking me from the rear, then deapstriking grey knight terminators*

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Ling27 said:

*does not pity 8th ed Grey Knights*

*Remembers being tabled before my first turn because of teleporting mega death machines that entered close combat with my tau by teleporting three dreadknights into my deployment zone and attacking me from the rear, then deapstriking grey knight terminators*

Yeah...they’ve been punished severely for that, and they are still spending their time in the corner as the absolute worst army in the entirety of 40k.

Edit: the grey knights are drowning their sorrows together with X-Wing 2.0 Jumpmasters.

Edited by FatherTurin

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The talk about 40k brings up an interesting point.  All too often GW releases models or factions that are REALLY good.  It becomes a known issue, but GW does nothing for a while, then nerfs the unit into oblivion.  This may not be what actually happens, but it sure feels like they wait until enough people buy it to then nerf it.  

The Knight Castellan is a perfect example.  When it came out it was really good for Knight players, and broken for players who combined knights with imperial guard and blood angels (the infamous “imperial soup”).  Eventually, rather than fix the immense problems that soup creates in game balance, they just jacked up the points cost on the Knight Castellan, along with other nerfs that really, REALLY hurt pure knight players while doing little to mitigate the insanity of soup lists.

Anyway, that is one of the many reasons why I’ve shifted away from 40k and when it comes to GW games I stick with Titanicus.  GW rules are generally a dumpster fire and I am so sick of playing games that retain a relic of 80’s design like “you go, I go.”  It’s the 21st century, folks.  Let’s investigate some systems for alternating investigations.

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6 minutes ago, FatherTurin said:

[GWs bad balancing problems:]

Anyway, that is one of the many reasons why I’ve shifted away from 40k and when it comes to GW games I stick with Titanicus.  GW rules are generally a dumpster fire and I am so sick of playing games that retain a relic of 80’s design like “you go, I go.”  It’s the 21st century, folks.  Let’s investigate some systems for alternating investigations.

As my father once told me. In the early days, when it was just Fantasy Battle, it was generally fine. Then 40k came, and sure it was okay. But you had to remember:

Games Workshop is a model company that makes a game to play with their models.

Then, starting around 2000 or so, management and stuff changed. The ideology shifted to being a Game, that makes models to go with it. From what I understand, this is the reason we didnt see very many specialty games for a long time. They focused on 40k, Fantasy Battle, Lord of the Rings. [Their balancing practices still sucked, but from what I understand 5th ed was a great point for the game]. Problem is, when things are pretty balanced, they dont sell. So suddenly they had to start selling again to make money and the garbage practices returned. Specialty games made a comeback (though, not the ones people wanted or how they had been).

 

I still enjoy the Idea of 40k. I like some of the models but I mostly try to buy from 3rd party (Victoria Miniatures). But I have begun to focus on games I enjoy the idea of more. Like Armada and the Middle Earth SBG, which is making a nice comeback. On top of that. I dont have as much time or money to devote to these games anymore. Which, sucks. But its not just miniatures I am having this issue with. My video gaming time has dropped drastically just because I try not to play anything that would require 100% of my attention while I am playing, as I also want to make sure my 1.5 yo daughter doesnt feel like I am ignoring her. So I avoid playing while she is awake. (When she is a little older and can entertain her self better, maybe)

 

As per the Pay to Win arguement. I have seen people with half a dozen rogues and villians packs buy more because they could use another YT-1300 or whatever. Buying more TIE bombers to do a bomber swarm. Its something that happens and I honestly hope that they just sell individual squadron packs. IE: A pack of 8 tie fighters, xwings, ect. It would allow me to get what I want without also needing to figure out what to do with the stuff I dont.

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2 hours ago, Ling27 said:

As per the Pay to Win arguement. I have seen people with half a dozen rogues and villians packs buy more because they could use another YT-1300 or whatever. Buying more TIE bombers to do a bomber swarm. Its something that happens and I honestly hope that they just sell individual squadron packs. IE: A pack of 8 tie fighters, xwings, ect. It would allow me to get what I want without also needing to figure out what to do with the stuff I dont.

The GW stuff is pretty spot on, with the minor caveat that they didn’t really exhibit a decent shift towards the community until far more recently, but yeah.  They’ve gotten better, but as the big fish in the pond there doesn’t seem to be much impetus for drastic change. 8th Edition started out promising, but codex creep and stratagems have f’ed the whole thing up again.  There’s also wild imbalance between factions, and no interest in balance whatsoever.  A new model will unabashedly be really powerful (as long as it’s imperial), and a new codex will have some broken abilities or combos that coincidentally require you to spend a few hundred dollars.  That is far closer to the pay to win more than anything FFG does.  Still not quite there, simply because 40k is an expensive hobby no matter what.  It’s more “pay to play, maybe pay more to win a few more games.”

Shifting to FFG, what I’m seeing is less “pay to win” and more “pay for something I want and get stuff I don’t want as well.”  Personally I don’t see that as a problem because you then have the opportunity to also try other set-ups.

What really gets me, and what I am seeing from some comments here (not specifically you, just talking generally here) is the complaint is less “Armada is pay to win,” and more, “the card I want is in an expansion I don’t want/can’t afford.”  And using that as an argument against FFG is just kind of silly.  Is TRC a great upgrade for CR90s?  Yeah.  Is Intensify Firepower arguably the best fleet command upgrade?  Sure.  Does that mean lacking those upgrades means you will immediately lose or render those ships irrelevant?  Absolutely not.  Back before TRC took the world by storm, I really had fun with a CR90B, leading  shots, and dodonna’s pride.  AFFM and Entrapment Formation are totally viable on a Pelta.  When Sato is hurling X-Wings down range, who needs TRC?

My point is, if Armada was “pay to win,” someone who had all the ships and upgrades would win every (or at least the majority) game.  I may not be able to field something ridiculous like 6 TRC90s and a Pelta with Intensify Firepower, but I do have everything released.  My record clearly indicates that having more ships does not mean I win.  Armada is “pay to have options,” which is, frankly, the case for literally every tabletop game that doesn’t come self contained in a single box.

 

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