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Ebak

Unpopular Point(s) of View

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So I was recently reading the topic in this forum about Vonreg's pilot ability and it got me thinking of one thing that does frustrate me a little bit about this game: the points.

Now, just to be clear. I think the points are important they have...well..a point to existing. They provide an abstract means to measure the cost of an item within the context of the game whether it be 200 points, 400 points or whatever.

However, I do have one opinion about this that I know is most likely going to be unpopular but I am going to posit it to see what peoples thoughts on it are.

I feel FFG did not go far enough with the app and its ability to calculate a list. To be more precise, FFG has experimented with scaling points due to certain factors such as ability, base size etc.

However there are situations that right now they can't get around. I will admit these are edge cases but potentially present an issue and these examples are not perfect but I do feel are worth considering.

There are some upgrades that are priced at a certain point because if they are any cheaper it would make it too good on one or two particular chassis compared to another.

One example I will posit is Juke. It's fantastic ability on the N1 and the Defender due to the Full Throttle ability, makes it highly efficient. However, it is equally as useful on an A-Wing...but not 7 points worth of useful in my opinion.

I think that the whole idea of fixed point prices with a few scaling options isn't going far enough. We have apps. Most people an app. The game reccomends you use the app even if we don't use the official app because it's not great, but we still use stuff like Launch Bay Next or YASB. I feel the game MIGHT benefit from just saying "screw point consistency or scaling by certain factors, let's just price upgrades on a per ship basis."

Now. Don't get me wrong. I know what a headache this will be for some people as people seem to like knowing that it will cost them X to put it on ship Y. However, I feel when we have a program that tells us the price of what an upgrade will cost on a ship we're not properly utilising it to its full potential. There were people who bemoaned an app in the first place, I don't want to get into an argument about that. It exists, let's use it to its full potential.

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2 minutes ago, Ebak said:

One example I will posit is Juke. It's fantastic ability on the N1 and the Defender due to the Full Throttle ability, makes it highly efficient. However, it is equally as useful on an A-Wing...but not 7 points worth of useful in my opinion.

It's not really any amount of points worth of useful on A-wing. An A-wing with a Focus shooting into 2 defence dice expects 0.85 damage (CALCULATOR), while an A-wing with Juke shooting into 2 defence dice expects 0.895 damage (CALCULATOR), which is such a tiny advantage that I honestly couldn't be convinced to pay points for it. And, of course, this assumes the defender has unmodified defence dice -- if they have a Focus of their own, the Juke is entirely useless... unless you mean to spam it, which is where the card breaks and is exactly what it's current price point is designed to prevent.

Juke is one of those cards that really should just be removed from existence, because it has only two modes: entirely pointless, or ludicrously busted. There is no happy middle ground where it becomes just another balanced upgrade card.

=====

As to the topic that FFG could be making better use of the digital nature of points... kind of? There is value in consistency and simplicity, as it keeps the game accessible and makes theory-crafting and listbuilding easier, and I think that's more important than losing the occasional "innocent" use of a card that's busted elsewhere. Particularly when nothing of real value is being lost.

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Its important to remember that a lot of us get into miniatures these days to escape digital media and get away from phones.

Players can get a better space fighter sim on a computer and have done so for almost 3 decades.  A tabletop game will never ever be able to compete with real time 3d computer power and AI in terms of a space combat experience, Particularly with Squadrons coming out soon.  But X-wing has 2 things a computer game doesnt: its physical components and non digital play.  if you push the game more towards digital, players like me will wonder why even bother? why not play Total War or Squadrons or whatever?

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Juke is probably a poor choice of an example upgrade. (My fix for it is an erratum to make it spend the evade token, then it can drop to 1 or 2 pts and work best on the generics with a talent slot.)

Advanced Sensors?

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57 minutes ago, Vontoothskie said:

if you push the game more towards digital, players like me will wonder why even bother? why not play Total War or Squadrons or whatever?

What are you talking about?!

The game remains on the table. The squad building remains on the computers/phones.

You've been charging that windmill for two years. The app stays.

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1 hour ago, Vontoothskie said:

you seem very upset that I dont like the App.  Are you okay?

Out of interest, how do you do your list building?  I'm not a fan of the official FFG app in its current form, but I do all of my list building for X-Wing via Yet Another Squad Builder.  (And use BattleScribe or another app for list building for other games.)

As someone who spends their 9-5 working at a computer and also plays a decent number of computer games in my spare time, I enjoy tabletop wargaming as a break from using a screen, but a list building app is such a huge quality of life improvement for me to be able to quickly and accurately build a list and not have the list building eat into the game playing time. 🙂

Edited by Jarval

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I don't want juke to be good.

I also don't want per pilot or per ship points, for three reasons.

One, because upgrades being better or worse on some platforms is the point of listbuilding - not a flaw to optimize away. The variation in efficacy is what creates the opportunity to make better or worse lists. I don't want the game to be won or lost in listbuilding, but a degree of advantage or disadvantage keeps things fresher.

Two, because upgrades are... sort of actively unhealthy for the game. This one is a large box to unpack but generally the more upgrades in lists the less fun the game is, and the fewer upgrades in lists, the more fun the game is. A happy middle is good (fewer upgrades than extended or boba 2 ship, more upgrades than all naked generics) but if you're dramatically increasing the blanket viability of upgrades, it's going to get miserable fast. We killed off 1.0 to escape this. Comparatively speaking, making all upgrades free and upcosting pilots accordingly, would produce an agonizingly terrible game.

Three, think about what that implies for game balance. There's what, like 70 something ships in the game? Many times that, pilots? So you're increasing the developers workload by that many times each balance update. And adding 70+ times as many combos for playtesters to have to try to identify, 70+ times as many opportunities to miss some major imbalance and get something catastrophically wrong. And the end result probably won't even be worth it, as most of those upgrades aren't taken because they're bad on those ships, so even in making them cheaper the estimated game impact is going to be relatively minimal on an individual basis and lesser used pilots are probably going to end up even less used because the number of clearly superior pilots will skyrocket alongside the degree to which they're superior. Basically you'll get remember the good times points and Whisper will ruin everything somehow.

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I'll mostly parrot @svelok here. 

14 minutes ago, svelok said:

I don't want juke to be good.

This exactly.  There's a lot of upgrades out there which should overall stay pretty expensive.

I don't think upgrades are unhealthy in themselves, and there are a lot of pretty fun and reasonable ones able to add a bit more texture and variety, but overall I think it's OK for some upgrades not to be equally good everywhere.

//

Overall, there would be some good results, but I just don't think the benefits outweigh the costs.

It does cause headaches in terms of figuring out ship prices.  I'll throw in a quibble about the app being incredibly frustrating to use without the internet (many game stores have wi-fi, but not always, or maybe it isn't working, or cell reception is bad in the basement, etc etc).  The big one is something that svelok says: it's a massive headache for the devs, too.  There's a lot of ships and a lot of pilots and a lot of upgrades to balance.

Heck, I think there should probably be less initiative pricing... a lot of the upgrades could just be priced at the init 4 or 5 value, let a few folks buy them more efficiently, but increase pilot costs where things are a problem.

 

I suppose ship-specific pricing doesn't have to be too fiddly.  Almost everything could get the baseline price, with only a few outliers having significantly different costs.  It'd be possible to have something like Passive Sensors cost 3 points on everything except Vader, but cost 12 points on Vader, but at this point... I'd really rather just have a banlist.  Found a really oppressive combo?  Ban it out.  Points stay easy and simple for everyone, which is a plus.

From what I've read about the Star Wars LCG, one nice thing was that the bans were all about pairs.  Can't bring this card (well, group of six cards) with this other one.  Banning some ship/upgrade pairs, or upgrade/upgrade pairs probably gets to a lot of what this would try to accomplish, but simpler.

We've got a few tools already.  Errata.  Changing slots.  Changing prices.  So far, those are mostly pretty clean, pretty simple, pretty intuitive.  If possible, I think it'd be better to avoid full "spreadsheet and flowchart pricing," and add another simple tool.

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4 hours ago, Vontoothskie said:

Its important to remember that a lot of us get into miniatures these days to escape digital media and get away from phones.

Players can get a better space fighter sim on a computer and have done so for almost 3 decades.  A tabletop game will never ever be able to compete with real time 3d computer power and AI in terms of a space combat experience, Particularly with Squadrons coming out soon.  But X-wing has 2 things a computer game doesnt: its physical components and non digital play.  if you push the game more towards digital, players like me will wonder why even bother? why not play Total War or Squadrons or whatever?

If you say this about playing via TTS or Vassel then I can see your point, but it misses the mark for me when talking about the tabletop version. 

I build all my lists on my phone via LBN, yet during a full day of playing I barely look at it. Only look at it when I am not 100% about the size of my bid and it looks to matter with my opponents bid.

For the rest everything is prepared up front. (even if I am playing 5 different lists that day.) So for the rest I have my escape from digital stuff and still converse in real-life with my opponent. The interruption to check bid on my phone smaller then getting a text message you might read between rounds.

Not that I agree with making all points costs different for each pilot, but the digital argument will not be bigger or smaller in comparison to what we have now. 

 

 

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Is it an unpopular opinion to say that I'm broadly happy with the state of the game? Prior to lockdown, I couldn't really name a major issue with the rules or any of the factions (though I'd imagine that CIS players would feel rightly aggrieved about the Nantex not really being viable).

As for apps: they're a wonderful list building tool. I don't see them infringing on the physical aspect of the game, as you don't need to interact with it during the course of a game, and for any tournament I've attended (small local affairs to System Open) has asked you to have a paper copy of your list available (meaning you don't need to use an app to confirm bids etc).

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11 hours ago, Ebak said:

Just to be clear. I don't think the game will go in this direction, nor really should it. But I also think FFG shouldn't be afraid to just say "Yo, this cost X's on ship A and B, and Y on anything else."

I don't think you have an unpopular opinion there, just a difficult to implement one. To reiterate what Svelok and theBitterFig said, this increases the developers work load immensely. Pricing an upgrade on 70 different ships take much more time. 

I wouldn't mind seeing some upgrades that have multiplicative worth such as Juke and maybe Snap Shot get charged by how many copies you have in the list. Either would likely be okay on one ship for 5 points, but the multiplicative value is too good. I want to run Juke Seevor, Juke Sabine, or Snap Shot Krassis, but currently the cost is too prohibitive.

I would like to see FFG use this scaled style of pricing for other upgrades, as well. Crack Shot could be scaled at 1 point for the first two copies then at 2 points for every successive copy. Likewise, this could be used for largely unused talents like Ruthless or Treacherous that could start at 0 points then add 1 point for each copy in the list just so every ship in the list doesn't take a free talent.

It also might be a decent way to mitigate cannon spam Scyks. They aren't truly a big problem, but FFG raised the cannon prices presumably because of Scyk cannon spam. If you charge the first cannon at the normal price, but then each successive cannon and extra 1 or 2 extra points, you can avoid that, or at least encourage them to use more than two types of cannons while allowing other ships the consideration to take cheaper cannons without breaking the bank.

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One fake way to sorta 'backdoor' dynamic pricing is to just give ships free upgrade points.

Scum Han, for example, 'wants' upgrades, but isn't actually a great carrier for his upgrades. He is meant to be this place you put all this janky stuff from Scum to make this custom ship, but he just isn't good enough for it to be worth investing points into him, and if the base chasis went down in price anymore it would be dumb. So a simple way to make you want to upgrade Falcon: A Starwars Story is to... just give you some free upgrade points on him, effectively discounting all upgrades on Scum Han by accounting for the loss of value in upgrading him as opposed to the Firespray by just giving you some free upgrades, rather than pushing his price down to the point where its such a cheap ship you start running a 'swarm' of large ships with a turret arc.

This avoids a lot of complicated 'exceptions based' costs, and prevents 'enforced metas' where a specific upgrade is what is discounted pushing the ship towards that artificially. It could however also be used to push a ship to specific upgrades if needed just by giving the points towards something the ship 'should' have but generally doesn't take (Such as the payload on the Y-wing). You can either offset the cost of an expected upgrade partially (Ex: Giving the Y-wing 1-2 points on their load so it still does cost something to put a turret, torp, or bomb on it, but less than most other ships, to discourage naked Y-wings, as an example), or just entirely give some free swag to a ship so you never have a reason to run it naked (the Scum Falcon is a good example of this, you probably would want to do something like increase its cost 1-2 points but give it 3-4 points to fill out its crew, gunners, ect).

This also increases balance resolution and helps solve the 'binder fodder' problem. Ships that are strong baseline ships struggle to get fancy tricks while maintaining numbers or pilot quality, while ships that are a bit more specialized, niche, or which are less internally synergistic are more likely to have unique, custom features to make up the shortfall.

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47 minutes ago, dezzmont said:

One fake way to sorta 'backdoor' dynamic pricing is to just give ships free upgrade points.

Something along these lines can be neat.

I've often rambled about the concept of Vaksai-like effects, where some ships would have keywords to reduce the cost of specific types of upgrades on them.  Maybe not every ship, but it'd be a way for something like Rebel A-Wings to justify running missiles (which would actually probably be quite fun), or a way to buff something like the G-1A which can't really get a straight points reduction, but maybe it gets cheaper crew, which gives it a role.  For something like an E-Wing, cheaper droids adds texture and character, and would be a cooler buff than a straight cost reduction.

To be sure, best used sparingly, with not every ship getting these kinds of discounts, and rarely if ever on more than one kind of upgrade, but it's be a lot simpler than the full spreadsheet model.

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37 minutes ago, theBitterFig said:

To be sure, best used sparingly, with not every ship getting these kinds of discounts, and rarely if ever on more than one kind of upgrade, but it's be a lot simpler than the full spreadsheet model.

You could also go in the opposite direction, and make the lack of these points a really big thing about a chasis. If I1-2s and I5-6s lack these customization points, it creates a sacrifice for running pure aces or pure swarm. This has the bonus of encouraging ships that currently don't really want to upgrade but lore wise did to consider it: The B-wing and its cannon slot comes to mind. Suddenly seeing a big fat 0 on upgrade points tells you the ship and pilot combination is dangerous and doesn't need help! As a bonus, this helps fix a little problem (most) of the "Generic+'s' have where your paying a tax for the initiative to get the option to upgrade talents, when you could just upgrade initiative further and get an ability for probably the same price.

On bigger ships that have sprawling upgrade paths, like the Scum Falc (Which has a whopping 6 different types of slots) or the 'modular weapon platform' ships like the Y-wing or some of the other weapon platforms, you also wouldn't want to restrict it unless you were trying to force a 'flavor' option. The Y-wing getting points for a bomb, for example, makes sense because bombs are pretty anti-synergetic with most Y-wing lists, but they are known for bombs. So by baking a free point into bombs on the Y-wing it encourages you to take a non-synergetic, interesting option that is lore appropriate by making you feel like your leaving 'points on the table.'

That is more pie in the sky design, the fire and forget way to very quickly and easily improve things without effort is to just basically use them when re-balancing ships totally generically in order to push the price down 'virtually' on ships that can't actually go down further without making them just overstatted.

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34 minutes ago, dezzmont said:

You could also go in the opposite direction, and make the lack of these points a really big thing about a chasis. If I1-2s and I5-6s lack these customization points, it creates a sacrifice for running pure aces or pure swarm. This has the bonus of encouraging ships that currently don't really want to upgrade but lore wise did to consider it: The B-wing and its cannon slot comes to mind. Suddenly seeing a big fat 0 on upgrade points tells you the ship and pilot combination is dangerous and doesn't need help! As a bonus, this helps fix a little problem (most) of the "Generic+'s' have where your paying a tax for the initiative to get the option to upgrade talents, when you could just upgrade initiative further and get an ability for probably the same price.

On bigger ships that have sprawling upgrade paths, like the Scum Falc (Which has a whopping 6 different types of slots) or the 'modular weapon platform' ships like the Y-wing or some of the other weapon platforms, you also wouldn't want to restrict it unless you were trying to force a 'flavor' option. The Y-wing getting points for a bomb, for example, makes sense because bombs are pretty anti-synergetic with most Y-wing lists, but they are known for bombs. So by baking a free point into bombs on the Y-wing it encourages you to take a non-synergetic, interesting option that is lore appropriate by making you feel like your leaving 'points on the table.'

That is more pie in the sky design, the fire and forget way to very quickly and easily improve things without effort is to just basically use them when re-balancing ships totally generically in order to push the price down 'virtually' on ships that can't actually go down further without making them just overstatted.

Could do.  The main thing I like about a limited set of reductions is the quickness compared to spreadsheets.  It's a lot easier to see "A-Wing have -1 missiles, G-1A have -2 crew" than it is to consult a full spreadsheet.  If a built-in customization budget gets complicated enough, it doesn't really gain in that way.

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5 hours ago, theBitterFig said:

The main thing I like about a limited set of reductions is the quickness compared to spreadsheets

Its actually not quick because it requires fine tuning to ensure you don't create scenarios where one set of upgrades is 'enforced' over others, and because it requires recognizing what the ship specifically needs and laying out the information. It also is a biiiit harder for players to handle as it means suddenly despite 'trading' upgrades you might suddenly jump in price. The benefit is you can enforce specific types of upgrades per-ship to enforce an identity (Y-wing bombers, missile A's, B's taking weapons rather than talents, ect.) but the downside is obvious too (You risk 'enforcing' a meta pick from that upgrade rather than actually increasing list diversity).

The quick and dirty way is just adding a new collumn to the existing points spreadsheet labeled 'Free upgrade points', writing in '1' or '0' for 90% of ships, and just moving those free points up and down. This has the benefit of making it so that the G-1A doesn't suddenly get confusingly more expensive if you trade a given crew for a given sensor or the title and makes it so that options for ships that have more than one type of slot can all compete.

Edited by dezzmont

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On 7/24/2020 at 7:53 AM, LUZ_TAK said:

I dread the prospect of having the devs costing every upgrade vs every chassis or pilot. I would rather have them think fresh content and game ideas.

This, and it makes anyone but the designers incapable of understanding the value structure of the game. 

I doubt this would make anyone happy from a end-user-comprehension point-of-view, and would make a list un-buildable without an electronic interface (which is currently a trainwreck from an Official Product standpoint).

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On 7/24/2020 at 7:59 AM, Vontoothskie said:

Its important to remember that a lot of us get into miniatures these days to escape digital media and get away from phones.

Players can get a better space fighter sim on a computer and have done so for almost 3 decades.  A tabletop game will never ever be able to compete with real time 3d computer power and AI in terms of a space combat experience, Particularly with Squadrons coming out soon.  But X-wing has 2 things a computer game doesnt: its physical components and non digital play.  if you push the game more towards digital, players like me will wonder why even bother? why not play Total War or Squadrons or whatever?

That is a very fair point. My counter argument is that the game itself is played all manual, there's no requirement to use the app while the game itself is being played. Components can be arranged and gathered up prior to play after consultation of the builder.

I feel it's unfair to equate a game that has a very minimalist use of digital media, that is simply used to convenience versus a video game that is entirely digital, particularly when it can be argued the digital application might make the actual game itself better and it's not increasing the digitisation of the game since that part of the game is already digitised. For example: If I was to argue that an app would be better for the dials and why roll dice when we can use a random number program or some other means of randomly determining an outcome then that would be converting more of the game over to a digital platform.

However, list building these days is mostly relegated to an app which FFG has made clear from day 1 as a means to adjust and change values rather than having them set in ink or stone.

Of course if you are discontent with a minor fraction of the game being digital, I'm sure we can arrange for some hieroglyphics or stone carvings to be regularly sent out to you with the point adjustments. Although you might require a museum to keep them in.

Sorry, the argument doesn't fly for me considering I'm not saying we increase the digital content of the game, more remain as the same.

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2 hours ago, Ebak said:

That is a very fair point. My counter argument is that the game itself is played all manual, there's no requirement to use the app while the game itself is being played. Components can be arranged and gathered up prior to play after consultation of the builder.

I feel it's unfair to equate a game that has a very minimalist use of digital media, that is simply used to convenience versus a video game that is entirely digital, particularly when it can be argued the digital application might make the actual game itself better and it's not increasing the digitisation of the game since that part of the game is already digitised. For example: If I was to argue that an app would be better for the dials and why roll dice when we can use a random number program or some other means of randomly determining an outcome then that would be converting more of the game over to a digital platform.

However, list building these days is mostly relegated to an app which FFG has made clear from day 1 as a means to adjust and change values rather than having them set in ink or stone.

Of course if you are discontent with a minor fraction of the game being digital, I'm sure we can arrange for some hieroglyphics or stone carvings to be regularly sent out to you with the point adjustments. Although you might require a museum to keep them in.

Sorry, the argument doesn't fly for me considering I'm not saying we increase the digital content of the game, more remain as the same.

It doesnt have to fly for you.  Your proposal makes it even harder to use PDFs for squad building, which means Im against it.  anyway have fun flying, stay safe

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