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The_Brown_Bomber

Luck-based vs Skill-based. Does luck play too larger a part in winning?

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Luck is needed to win this game. More luck than I would like. Tactics help but you can play a perfect game tactically - moving your ships optimally and taking the best actions etc and get undone by lucky opponents dice/unlucky dice.

 

Could advanced tournament rules move this game closer to skill-based? 

 

I wonder if there might be a way to introduce a game rule where you can reroll dice at a key time during the game. This might be built into the tournament rules themselves or could be in the form of some type of unique upgrade.

 

UPGRADE CARD "The Force is with you"

COST: ???

EFFECT: Once per match you may reroll all dice for a single attack or defense roll.

 

This single upgrade card would not be too powerful imo (it would need to be costed correctly or built into squad-building somehow), and it would not address the issue of lucky rolls on its own - but with some careful playtesting I am sure designers could come up more ideas which were also balanced to move this game towards skill-based.

 

This reroll would be a one use effect but Force sensitive pilots like Luke, Vader might be able to use this upgrade card twice in a single match or it would cost less squad points.

Edited by The_Brown_Bomber

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ER.. there are lots of ways to reroll dice, and I don't think that has anything to do with making the game less luck based.

 

The fact that certain players always win or place high suggest this game is not hugely luck based. If it was, you would end up with the results being far more random, with poor players placing high regularly.

 

Having played and taught a lot of gamers over the years. People fall into different camps.

 

There are some people that will always remember when they are unlucky and will believe the game is against them. They will generally lose far more than average, but this is not due to their dice rolls, but more due to the fact that they lose hope after the first couple of bad rolls. And also don't make allowances for them. It is more or less a self fulfilling proficy.

 

There are always gamblers that will see a chance and go for it even if it's very unlikely to work. And some times they will be seen as lucky as everyone remembers when that person makes that 1/100 shot that wins them the game. But generally don't remember all those times they didn't

 

Most high ranking tournament players however fall into a third catagory, they will play the odds. They will look at a situation and think "what is the likeliness of that enemy ship going down to the 1st shot", and then have a contigency if the odds looks like they may need it. They will also quite often set things up so if the 1st shot does connect the 2nd ship, can still do something useful.

Edited by Rodent Mastermind

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There is currently no way to reroll all dice for a single attack or without using an action like target lock. i know there is howlrunner and jonus and that rarely used y-wing pilot :) what im suggesting is there might be a way you can do this in ANY situation ONCE during the game - to POTENTIALLY negate the effects of a single unlucky roll. They still may fudge the reroll. Thats just the randomness of dice, but at least they had a SECOND chance at success.

 

There still needs to be a luck element in the game. Id just like to see a way to help all players recover from a bad roll. In casual games its probably not needed, but in tournament play - i can see this as a possibility.

 

imo playing the odds leads tournament players to play more ships. More ships means more dice. For an imperial player that probably translates to playing a tie swarm (although not all imperial players follow the crowd - good for them!) They r rolling more dice than their non swarm opponents. Its the reason why swarms are so powerful. They roll more dice/have more attacks. Statistically they will get in more damage, especially early in the game when they have the numerical advantage.

 

I accept that luck is part of this game. That means taking bad luck on the chin when it happens to you. I get that. What I am suggesting is that by giving all players an out to reroll that one unlucky defense roll or important attack roll you are putting a small amount of control back into the players hands instead of relying on the fate of the Dice Gods.

Edited by The_Brown_Bomber

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The "luck" factor is a big part of what makes this game interesting.  Remember that "luck" and "randomness" are really just the same thing looked at through different eyes.  In ANY game with some random element "luck" can always be a factor otherwise you are just down to a pure game of mastery.  I mean without the random events EVERY game is essentially possible with the actions alone deciding what actually happens.

 

If you take out the possibility of "luck" then you're left with a game like checkers, chess, or even tic-tac-toe.

 

I could point out that the idea of a "free" reroll really does NOTHING to stop "luck" aside from providing another means of averaging results.  I mean it is possible to roll three or more straight 20s with a d20.

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I'm not sure the one out of order reroll wouldn't change much, the other guy just might use his reroll to reroll against yours. ;)

Even if it would work the surprising changes that might be caused by really lucky/unlucky rolls are actually interesting as it forces you to rethink your plan, or as rodent suggested a good player might calculate for that occasion. 

I'm usually against removing to much chance from games for the sake of predictability. Dealing with changing circumstances is actually fun even if the changes are enhanced by chance.

 

Aside from that, thematically the Star Wars universe is full of lucky and unlucky circumstances and most space fight scenes are about dealing with what you got.

Also with the movement and the choices you got in choosing pilots and upgrades you actually have quite a array of options to influence the probabilities of single fights, more than in most other tabletop games I have seen,

Edited by Asgo

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A simple way to reduce the role of luck would be to multiply the values of every stat on the pilot card by a fixed factor. The idea here is that the more dice you roll, the more your results will be concentrated around the mean, and you will see fewer "lucky" extremes. Of course, this would be house rules only, but if the luck bothers you it could help you enjoy the game more.

 

For example, a generic X-Wing with a Focus has approximately a 2.2% chance of one-shotting a generic TIE Fighter with a Focus at Range 2. Now let's say you double every stat on the pilot cards. With 6 dice, the X-Wing can still one-shot the TIE Fighter (which now has 6 hull), but this extreme outcome is less likely. The probability of a one-shot kill in this case is somewhere in the neighborhood of 0.05%. So in this example, increasing the values on the pilot cards by 2 times decreases the rate of the extreme outcome by ~45 times.

 

Because everything is scaled by the same factor, in principle the games shouldn't be any longer or shorter in duration than they are right now. Basically, you'll see fewer outcomes on both extremes, so while you're less likely to one-shot a TIE, you're also less likely to miss it entirely.

 

Personally, though, I think that the role of luck is overstated by many on these boards.

Edited by a4rino

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With dice in a short series of rolls you can say it is luck that I got more hits than normal or less, but the truth is that over the long run unless the dice are out of sorts you will get averages.  Rolling attack dies you will get 50% hits including regular and crits, rolling defense dice I think it is 37% chance of an evade.  Using those numbers a 7 tie swarm will get 14 attacks and 21 evade chances while a 4 squad x-wing will get 12 attacks and 8 evades, take the numbers and see what you get with no adjustments.  On average you get 7 hits and 7.8 evades, while the x-wing gets 6 hits and 3 evades.  I pick that because they each would be 84 points.  My self I like to use different skills and pilot levels just because it seems to be more fun.  Playing in a tourney and if you care about winning consistantly, you play the odds. 

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One idea to modify the attack and defense values would be to allow an adjustment based on pilot skill. After all a more skilled pilot must be able to do some flying skills better than a lower skilled pilot in the same fighter, otherwise why is he more skilled, how did he earn that skill level. Give a more skilled pilot extra attacks or evades in relation to the pilot he is shooting at or being shot at by, because of his higher skill. If you are higher skill, you get an extra attack against a lower skilled pilot and an extra defense roll against a lower skilled pilot shooting at you. That way you don't have to change cards, Just a new simple rule

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   Ok, I have wanted to throw my dice when they fail me ona critical roll but I wouldn't have it any other way. While their is a a large part of the game (dice rolls) that is luck based many parts aren't. Squad builds, base attack and evade numbers, hitpoints present and maneuverability. You control a large portion of this game, dice can break you but really would you ever want to play a game with no question as to if what you are trying will succeed?
   Even when it does come to dice you have far more control than you expect, especially on the attack side. You have cards such as gunner, luke and fire control systems. You also have target locks, focus tokens and pilot abilities for rerolls. On the defensive side you have evade tokens, focus, sensor jammers and stealth devices. Granted defensive rolls are harder to modify but they need to be. People need to be rewarded for taking shots. If you play your game and use your squad to the max I think you will find dice have less to do with it than you think.

   When it comes down to it I need a game that makes you take calculated risks like taking a target lock over a focus to up your damage output while sacrificing defense. I also want a game where the unexpected can happen. Just remember the dice don't choose how they fall.
  

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You have to have dice in order to replicate the unpredictable nature of real life situations. When I play X-wing on the computer, I might have that TIE Fighter lined up just right, but there's still a chance I'll miss because he darts around and it's hard to center my shots. The firing arc there is also pretty small compared to XWM (I think maybe 1-2 degrees vs. 45), so adding in the random factor helps make it feel like a real fight to the death.

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No. If you want a game with no luck, play chess or go.

Mathematically The law of large numbers does indicate the more actual dice that are rolled, especially if each one of those dice rolls is not that random to begin with (say only two or three possible results on 8 sides), then the results of those rolls will more closely approach the expected values for said rolls. That being said the randomness is what creates part of the emotional response. The glory of rolling all three evades spending your evade token and completely avoiding 4 hits. Or rolling four dice, then re-rolling them with your target lock only to miss with everything again. These events are very rare in the game, but they have an huge emotional impact. Those emotional impact (and lesser ones like them) lead us to all sorts of odd behavior, like games banishing poor performing dice, or complaining about how they always have such bad luck. But in the end I think we love it.

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Luck is primarily a factor between fairly evenly skilled opponents. Skill trumps luck in this game the vast majority of the time.

First there is skill in building a solid list. Next there is skill in flying and strategy (routinely staying off asteroids, avoiding collisions,etc). Then you also will find people particularly adept at anticipating their opponents moves.

Luck is way down the list.

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Based on it not seeming to be something I hear about a lot, it probably mostly evens itself out, but I know from experience that this game has the potential to change massively based on luck.

 

One of my previous games was an utter steamroll, with the Imperials not losing a single ship to the Rebels, despite the Imperials having a lot of points invested in a Shuttle that spent the entire match circling around. There are no tactics that can compensate for one team regularly turning up mostly hits and the other team turning up all blanks on attack, and likewise on defense.

 

It may not be a likely situation, but it can definitely change the course of a game beyond anyone's control.

Edited by Jokubas

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One idea to modify the attack and defense values would be to allow an adjustment based on pilot skill. After all a more skilled pilot must be able to do some flying skills better than a lower skilled pilot in the same fighter, otherwise why is he more skilled, how did he earn that skill level. Give a more skilled pilot extra attacks or evades in relation to the pilot he is shooting at or being shot at by, because of his higher skill. If you are higher skill, you get an extra attack against a lower skilled pilot and an extra defense roll against a lower skilled pilot shooting at you. That way you don't have to change cards, Just a new simple rule

Out of all the stuff that has been written this is probably the best idea i have heard. For example... For every 3 or 4 points of pilot skill you have in excess of the enemy you are shooting at or getting shot at, gain one attack or defense die.

This can be explained by Wedge or Vader simply outflying a Rookie and getting a sustained burst into him. Or the exceptional pilots just dodging anything a Rookie fires at them while eating a bantha burrito at the same time.

This would give them a huge advantage, granted, but hey they are the aces of aces and it would actually justify their point cost without changing cards or stats

Giving them more and better manoeuvers would be another possibility. As it is every ship is too predictable in its movement. To add movement options depending of pilot skill would make it possible for pro players to just outfly and outplan their enemies.

Honestly if you look at tournament results, there is a certain group of players that are always present in the top 16 because they build competitive lists and can fly them. But then after that its a question of luck as distinguishing factor who lands at which number from 1-16. Because they play equally well and often don't do any mistakes in maneuvering, actions and target selection

You can't take luck out of X-Wing, but you can do a lot to get the game more balanced. And to get it away from just spamming cheap ships!

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I think you have this backwards a bit. high PS named pilots are good and probably worth their points. The reason the top players run swarms is it takes the luck out of the game. The more hull/shields you have the more dice you roll over the course of the game and the closer to the statistical norm your games will be. The more ships you have the less impact an unlucky roll with have. You only lose 12 points instead of 30.

 

The problem is not the ships themselves it's how tournaments are scored. There is very little bonus for annihilating your opponent. Fleets with expensive pilots tend to win big or lose due to 1 or 2 bad moves or unlucky rolls. SO good player might get 3 complete annihilation of the enemy, and 2 losses. The same player with a swarm is more likely to get get 4 close wins and 1 close loss. And as the tournament system gives no more weighting to an annihilation than a close win. A swarm is a better choice in a tournament.

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I haven't been able to play much in a while, but I did watch the cast of the recent championship game.  IIRC, the rebel player popped three ties in "one shot" situations, including Howlrunner at range 3 (or it could have been through an asteroid, I can't recall exactly).  I'd say that alone indicates a fairly huge luck factor, as that game wouldn't have been *that* close without those early deductions from the Imperial player.

 

I also realize that his Biggs rolled terribly on defensive rolls, but I'll go out on a limb and say outlier rolls that eliminated an academy pilot/dark curse/howlrunner w/ her re-rolls > Biggs.

Edited by WarLax

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If one were to roll all green blanks 3 rolls in a row, then one has probably lost the game.

 On this and this one then one can see a potential issue. It all depends on the fairness of the dice being thrown.

 

A good general figures out ways to reduce

a) the chance of this happening
b) the effect this has on the outcome.

 

But 3 in a row is very hard.

 The final of the tournie is an example. 3 blanks on DC and 3 blanks on Howlie... shocking luck at key moments but both played very well to make it have minimal impact on the game.

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You look at the probability of this happening though is very very low... 6 blanks in a row is an  0.28% chance... So you would have to roll 6 dice 360 times on average for 6 blanks in a row to come up.

 

Even getting 3 blanks on a single roll is quite unlikely only coming up on average every 19 rolls.

Edited by Rodent Mastermind

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The strategy games that I enjoy are built upon risk-management.  X-Wing does this perfectly.  The dice add enough risk variables to all the tactical choices that must be made from squad building up through movement choices, action choices, and target choices.  These are all skills that are based upon having the dice figured into the mix.  Rolling dice does not remove skill.

 

Dice luck sometimes determines the outcome of individual games, but top players regularly rise to the top of the field.  Mere luck does not carry anyone all the way to the top.

 

Personally, I do not enjoy games that boil down to straight forward math puzzles and odds based upon card-counting.  To me, success in those feels more like passing a math test than winning a game.

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Hot and cold streaks can definitely shape the outcome of a tournament, but I think the tournament format is more to blame than X-Wing. I don't think its possible to definitively determine the best player in 5 games. Unfortunately playing more games is unreasonable given the short duration.

 

Even though sometimes it feels that way, I don't agree that X-Wing is too random. The designers recognized that rolling so few dice can be streaky so they gave us target lock, focus, and evade. These tools smooth out the randomness. If you watch the tournament videos you'll notice that the players are pretty good at maneuvering and not hitting obstacles so they can use these abilities.

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I think you have this backwards a bit. high PS named pilots are good and probably worth their points. The reason the top players run swarms is it takes the luck out of the game. The more hull/shields you have the more dice you roll over the course of the game and the closer to the statistical norm your games will be. The more ships you have the less impact an unlucky roll with have. You only lose 12 points instead of 30.

The problem is not the ships themselves it's how tournaments are scored. There is very little bonus for annihilating your opponent. Fleets with expensive pilots tend to win big or lose due to 1 or 2 bad moves or unlucky rolls. SO good player might get 3 complete annihilation of the enemy, and 2 losses. The same player with a swarm is more likely to get get 4 close wins and 1 close loss. And as the tournament system gives no more weighting to an annihilation than a close win. A swarm is a better choice in a tournament.

Not at all, named pilots are only taken if they are either Howlrunner or Biggs, because they have those "bubble effects" and are actually worth their points. Other pilots are taken only because they fit into the squad without diminishing the numbers. For example look at Luke or Wedge in the 2 world championship top 8 lists. If you take 4 X-Wings anyway, why not take one named. But the rarity of named and the prevalence of non-named pilots shows pretty much what is better.

Named pilots should have more advantages than only their pilot skill and one special rule that is in some cases pretty weak. Also at least all of them should have an elite medal.

I just do not find it very appealing to see and to play x-wing rookie 1-4 ot Academy 1-5. This just has no flair at all! I know in tournament settings this is the case for other games too, but whoever tells me he likes this, go ahead!

Edited by ForceM

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The strategy games that I enjoy are built upon risk-management.  X-Wing does this perfectly.  The dice add enough risk variables to all the tactical choices that must be made from squad building up through movement choices, action choices, and target choices.  These are all skills that are based upon having the dice figured into the mix.  Rolling dice does not remove skill.

 

Dice luck sometimes determines the outcome of individual games, but top players regularly rise to the top of the field.  Mere luck does not carry anyone all the way to the top.

 

Personally, I do not enjoy games that boil down to straight forward math puzzles and odds based upon card-counting.  To me, success in those feels more like passing a math test than winning a game.

 

I totally agree. As a long term Skaven player back in the day, I always knew something would blow up or horribly under perform and something would do FAR better than expected. That meant I had to assume that any charge would falter and possibly turn into a route, any time I shot I may do nothing. Therefore when planning I took this account, I would build in redundancy, plan what I would do in both situations. I generally won, because my strategy never relied on 1 roll... The same is true here. Though at 100pts, and with the way the tournament system is set up, I don't think that risk-reward is quite balanced. Taking elite forces is not rewarded enough, because a win is a win, for the risk you take of having one of your ships gunned down due to a lucky shot. At a higher point value I don't think it would be quite so bad, or if there was a bit more granulation in the scoring. SO 3 annihilations, was as good at 4 close wins.

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