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Cpt ObVus

Squadron cap in Standard Armada

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I’m someone who doesn’t really have competitive Armada tournaments happening anywhere nearby (central New York State, tell me if I’m wrong!), but plays a lot of pretty “serious” casual games. As such, I was inspired to ask about this by the poster who wasn’t thrilled about the tournament scoring system (I have no opinion about that issue, and didn’t wanna hijack that thread). Anyway...

Armada games can be very long affairs, and while I tend to look at that as a feature, not a bug, it does mean that some busier friends who would otherwise play more often sometimes just can’t. It seems to be pretty well agreed that squadron play is the longest part of the game. This is further evidenced by a recent 3-on-3 pivotal battle our group played for an RitR campaign; their side had 6 ships, ours had 7, but we spent 80% of our time moving each side’s squadrons (we had 15, they had 18, including their Fighter Defense objective).

I also quite often hear that one of the game’s most difficult and time-consuming aspects is the concept of squadron “bubble” effects; that is, trying to figure out if placing Saber Squadron juuust so allows me to be at distance 2 of the squadron I want to snipe, while making sure that it’s not engaged with any of your Escorts, while also making sure that it isn’t in range of your Intel, but IS in range of that Y-Wing I want to lock down. It’s fiddly. It takes a while.

Finally, there seems to be a general problem in that fleets that choose to max out on squadrons and run 120+ points in them are often difficult to stop by medium or small squadron groups.

All of this leads to one basic question: Would these aspects of the game be smoothed a bit by lowering the squadron cap? I like squadrons, I almost always run them, and I don’t want to trivialize them, but perhaps something like 100 points (25% of the fleet point total) would be better than the current 134. Lower total = generally fewer squads, so that makes max squad fleets faster to fly. It also reduces complicated interactions and bubble effects, further increasing speed.

It might also help bring a bit of balance to things, in that certain max squad fleets like Sloane and Imp 2-ship wouldn’t be completely dismantled, but might be more vulnerable to medium and small fighter coverage fleets; after all, if your medium-sized fighter group (of say, 80 points) comes up against a maximum point group of 134 points, you’re gonna be hard pressed to fight it at all, whereas a maximum point group of 100 points... that’s a fight. You will likely still lose the squadron battle, but it will probably be far less lopsided.

And 100 points of squads is still a fairly good portion of your fleet, in a 400 point game, which keeps squadrons relevant.

I know I’m not the first person to have kicked this around in my head, and I know it’s not likely to be adopted by standard Armada, and yes, I know that my friends and I can make fleets to any parameters around my kitchen table. But what do you all think about this? Would it improve the game?

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First thought on this is the advantage it would give to force multipliers that are already strong. Yavaris is the obvious example with Adar also coming into play. These would need to be mitigated.

The second issue is that it removes large fighter coverage entirely. With only 100 points, you can’t fit the requisite support squadrons (Intel, Escort, etc.) to make bombers a thing. Multipurpose squadrons would be given a big boost while the more specialized squadrons would be hit hard.

I don’t think that this would be an improvement. I’m hoping that squadron play sees some streamlining in the Clone Wars release. 

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I don’t think a cap on squads is an issue. I think a lack of a cap on aces is. If it were me I would have a cap of 3 or 4 aces per list. That way you can still have a pretty effective small ball but stop you from goin all out with 7 or 8 and just dismantling a large generic ball

Edited by Packerman29

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1 hour ago, Packerman29 said:

I don’t think a cap on squads is an issue. I think a lack of a cap on aces is. If it were me I would have a cap of 3 or 4 aces per list. That way you can still have a pretty effective small ball but stop you from goin all out with 7 or 8 and just dismantling a large generic ball

It's probably easier to set a point cap to aces. With regards to possible combos you can introduce a cap, for example, where you can only have 50 points of uniques which gives you space to include 2-3 aces with synergy but you have to complement them with generics

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25 minutes ago, Rimsen said:

It's probably easier to set a point cap to aces. With regards to possible combos you can introduce a cap, for example, where you can only have 50 points of uniques which gives you space to include 2-3 aces with synergy but you have to complement them with generics

So you essentially take MMJ off the board. 

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Personally I think the easiest way to get around the squadron issue is to go to 600 point sector fleet. It upps the squadron points from 134 to 150, a change of 16, but there would be another 184 points for ships. It also would provide the numbers needed to get a solid flacking force on the table.  Or provide enough activations to threaten large squadron investments through overwhelming firepower. 

 

As for the length of game issue: I find running high squadron activation fleets with enough squadron commands to get squadrons killing eachother,  or stuck battling it out instead of moving for position, speeds up gameplay nicely. 

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When you can remove analysis paralysis and over measuring from the state of play, you’ll find you can play tournament games of Armada in 45 minutes or so.

My chief opponent and I are like that when we do get to Play together. He grew up on Warmachine Chess Clocks, and I’ve always pre thought  a plan during my opponents move.

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That’s what I want. So many good 3 ace combos. Almost all over 50 pts. Any more than that and genetics are useless. Just like right now. 15 generic ties stand no chance against 6 or 7 aces and that’s unfortunate. 

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I think squads need the cap they have in the 400 point format.

While I agree that squadrons seem to be the most efficient way to do things in this game (seeing as range bubbles are far less restricting then the maneuver tools and range bands ships use)and that they can seem a little OP (though significantly less so since some of the nerfs they've put in place lately), they also need to be relevant to the game. Squadrons are a massive roll in the SWU. Often times they're the most important part of the cinematic universe. At 400 points 25% really isn't enough to allow fighter lists a solid spot in the competitive meta, or at the very least restricts competitive squadron lists too much. 

This is why Armada starts to become more fun at higher fleet point totals. 

At 600 points, a squad cap of 150 (25%) is still quite a powerful fighter ball , but also allows a solid ship dynamic without the fleet building sacrifices that standard play often encourages. Continuing upwards, at 800-1000-1200 point games what I tend to see is diminishing returns in squadrons. It's very rare to see more than 200 points in squads at sector fleet point levels. At a certain point the squadrons just need too much ship support to be effective and it seems to be around that 150-200 point cap (from my experience anyways).


My advice, step away from the competitive format and start a 600-800 point sector fleet league/tournament. It's a lot of fun. 

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I feel if they wanted to do anything to the squadron game just Ace cap... Boom done.

If a fleet can only hold 2 (or 3), that's biggs/jan and then generics (can't take biggs and wedge/luke/jan etc), or sontier / howlrunner and generics (can'r have all of MMJ). It stops big ace balls giving loads of perks, makes picking squadrons more tactical, and means if you've brought only a few that big ace ball isn't eating through you. 

ATM both sides can also drop 4 scatter aces minimum, more for imps... just having loads of these out makes the squad game take forever. So yeah to me capping the amount of aces one can hold at 400 would be an interesting idea! 

 

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It works well, because you've really got to work harder on the squadron game.  I have been running Morna/Bossk/Zertik with 3 x Decimators, which is good fun and hard to kill and needs little to no support.  I sometimes use Howlrunner/Rhymer/Zertik if I want a bomber wing and escorts.

 

There are a lot of 3-ace combos that work well and don't 'overpower' how the game works.  If you specified aces were capped and uniques were too (say, 3 aces, 1 unique) then people would still run uniques, whereas if you say '3 aces OR uniques' then people will only run aces because they're so much better.

 

I also think it's a bit more 'realistic' (if you can use that to describe a toy spaceship game based upon a film).  Is your fleet REALLY going to have ONLY the best fighter pilots in the galaxy?  Or would it have maybe a few and a lot of redshirts?

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30 minutes ago, flatpackhamster said:

There are a lot of 3-ace combos that work well and don't 'overpower' how the game works.  If you specified aces were capped and uniques were too (say, 3 aces, 1 unique) then people would still run uniques, whereas if you say '3 aces OR uniques' then people will only run aces because they're so much better.

You could always just ace cap 2/3 and leave uniques alone, without tokens they don't gain many benefits and Rieekan is still limited to 1 ship or 1 squad a turn, which will usually be ship 8/10 times and even then the Rieekan Aces would mean 2 aces and all those uniques which is a nerf in itself over all aces rn.

 

I do feel 3 aces still leaves a lot open, Biggs/Jan/Wedge-Generic / MMJ-generic is still very good, but if you now say 2 only plus as many generics and uniques maybe saber comes into MMJ? It makes it more of a thinking process.  

Although 2 aces does restrict a-lot I guess, something like 3 aces and unique cap could be it.. it's a interesting topic 

Edited by EbonHawk

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I think the biggest hurdle in this is familiarity and practice. In my last prime I ran Sloane with the full 134 in squadrons and ran into another player running a full Sloane build. Our game was over in about 80 minutes because we both knew what we wanted to accomplish, both moved with intention and intuition. 

 

FYI, we each still had 3+ squads left at the end, so it wasn't that the balls completely died

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Familiarity plays a big role in speeding things up, and that only comes with practice. For more occasional players, that's not easy to get.

 

As far as an Ace cap goes... You've basically locked everyone into just force multipliers for Aces barring MMJ where you can focus so many points into a tiny number of squadrons and still get fantastic results . I'm not sure we want something that means Wedge, Han, Soontir, and Luke never get onto the table.

Honestly? There's enough accretion and early mistakes in the game it might be time to look into a 2nd edition or at least a 1.5 revision. The clone wars release would be a perfect time for that, actually. However, doing such a thing without messing too much with components would be tricky. Armada's still doing fine, but I don't know that it could make it through the backlash X-wing 2.0 got initially.

Edited by Squark

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I think Rebellion in the Rim was the designers acknowledging that perhaps Aces get too much play and generics not enough. If playing casually with friends, you could always implement a similar rule on your own (i.e., you can only have X number of unique squadrons in your fleet or up to X number of points).

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We’re not occasional players. At least, many of us aren’t. We’re frequent players. We are very precise, though. I’m trying to speed that along.

As to the Ace cap idea... I really hate that idea. It would mean we’d see the “best” aces even more often, the “worst” ones hardly ever. If I’m limited to only three aces (or whatever) per list, there’s just zero chance I’m wasting a slot on Black Squadron, for example, whereas now, there are times when I go, sure, let’s throw him in. 
 

Ace capping without lowering the squadron cap in general also means more generics, and since they’re cheaper, that actually means MORE squadrons, which I think exacerbates the problem. 
 

I dunno. We played a few Sector Fleet games at 600, and the 25% limit on squads seemed a better proportion to me. Doesn’t seem a popular idea here. No big deal.

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44 minutes ago, Cpt ObVus said:

We’re not occasional players. At least, many of us aren’t. We’re frequent players. We are very precise, though. I’m trying to speed that along.

As to the Ace cap idea... I really hate that idea. It would mean we’d see the “best” aces even more often, the “worst” ones hardly ever. If I’m limited to only three aces (or whatever) per list, there’s just zero chance I’m wasting a slot on Black Squadron, for example, whereas now, there are times when I go, sure, let’s throw him in. 
 

Ace capping without lowering the squadron cap in general also means more generics, and since they’re cheaper, that actually means MORE squadrons, which I think exacerbates the problem. 
 

I dunno. We played a few Sector Fleet games at 600, and the 25% limit on squads seemed a better proportion to me. Doesn’t seem a popular idea here. No big deal.

It's already the case that some squadrons see zero play.  Hondo in Slave 1? Gar Saxon? 

 

My experience so far with the cap is that even though there are more squadrons, because the rules for them are simpler, it's faster.  It's also easier on my handful of remaining grey cells.  (Oh I forgot Dengar's +1 counter, oh wait that one is at range 2, oh hang on I get a crit reroll there - it's a lot to keep track of and turns the game into 'whoever remembers the rules best wins).  But it may be different for you.  Give it a go and see if you have the same experience as me.  More data would always be useful.

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