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MajorJuggler

TIE Defender balance discussion: not competitively priced?

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OK, now that the TIE Defender has been announced, we can all stop speculating about (most) of its stats. I am also very excited, and will love to play with these ships for fun regardless of their point cost. So I am not trying to rain on everybody's parade.  :)

 

However, I am predicting right now, that the TIE Defender will NEVER get used competitively successfully, unless its new maneuverability dial/ability is insanely overpowered. Even then, this ability/dial might be irrelevant against turret lists (HSF, etc).

 

I would very much like to be wrong.

 

Perspective #1

The best ship for direct comparison is the 3/3/3/0 TIE Interceptor. Start with an 18 point PS1 TIE Interceptor, add 3 shields at 4 points each, and you're at 30 points. The problem is:

  • The built-in cost of shields / hull should cost FAR less than the upgrade cost. It's not an effective way to spend points. So a PS1 Defender is an even worse way to spend points than a PS1 Interceptor.
  • PS1 TIE Interceptors are already not an effective use of points, and don't get used competitively with any apparent success.

If you go by Lanchester's Law, then the point cost compared to an Interceptor should go as: 18*2^0.5 = 25.5

 

Then nudge the cost up slightly to account for the extra hit points being shields not hull, and you're at around 27 points. Off-the-cuff math, if we call 3 shields + 3 hull to be worth 6.75 hull (about a reasonable estimate), then 18*2.25^0.5 = 27.

 

So we're left with another 3 points, and the following differences between the Interceptor and the Defender (that we know so far):

 

Pros:

  • Gains the Target Lock action
  • Gains the cannon slot and missile slot
  • Has a different dial, with some kind of a new maneuver never before seen.
  • Has some way that at least one of the pilots can get an evade token. This could be related to the above maneuver, or it could be related to an EPT. If it's a non exclusive EPT (as all have been so far), then it doesn't help balance the ship at all, since anyone can take it.

 

Cons:

  • Looses the Evade action
  • Looses the Boost action

So, we have a ship that is probably less points efficient than an existing ship that already isn't used competitively. We still have to wait and see about the rest of its abilities, but right now it looks quite overcosted.

 

 

Perspective #2

For 90 points you can field 3 TIE Defenders, with 9 attack dice and 18 hit points.

For 84 points you can field 7 TIE Fighters, with 14 attack dice and 21 hit points.

 

If you count 3 attack dice as doing 70% more damage than 2 attack dice (on average it's in the 1.6 - 1.75 range, assuming that Howlrunner is NOT in the equation on either side, and making some assumptions about the average types of shots being made), then the 3 TIE Defenders will still be doing only 73% the damage of the 7 TIE Swarm. And the Defenders have less hit points. And there are less of them.

 

Perspective #3

Lets use Lanchester's Laws again to figure out the combat strength of the 7 TIE Swarm vs the TIE Defenders. Lets assume the Defenders have 1.7x as much attack power, and 7/3 the hit points (we'll be a little generous and count the 3 shields as being worth an entire additional hit point). The relative combat strengths are then:

 

TIE Defenders: 3^2*1.7*(7/3) = 35.7

TIE Fighters: 7^2*1*1 = 49

 

To get the combat strengths to be equal, you would need about 3.5 TIE Defenders for every 7 TIE Fighters. So, if you based cost just on a brute force slug fest, a 3/3/3/3 ship would be balanced at roughly 12*7/3.5 = 24 points. The remaining 6 points, or 20% of the cost of the ship, goes towards unique enhancements. Or, equivalently, the TIE Defender costs 25% more than it's "slugfest" based price relative to a TIE Fighter. For reference, a TIE Interceptor costs 15% more than it's "slugfest" cost relative to a TIE Fighter, and that 15% is probably already a hair too expensive for the competitive metagame.

 

Perspective #4

All of the above numbers assume that Howlrunner doesn't exist. If you compare 2 dice with 1 reroll vs 3 dice, the 3 dice advantage is reduced to around 1.2-1.25. So a squad of 7 TIE Fighters including Howlrunner is going to make the Defenders look pathetically outclassed. This might be a biased comparison because a 7-TIE Swarm is undeniably one of the best (if not the best) squads in the game, but it is the standard by which other competitive squads are measured against.

 

Their high cost also makes a 3 Imperial squad difficult. If the higher PS ships follow the normal cost progression, then the PS6 and PS8 pilots will cost 38 and 36 points. 38 + 36 + 30 = 104, so you can't run both named pilots (even naked) with a PS1 Defender. You could run the PS8 pilot plus two PS1 Defenders at 98 points, presumably.

 

Perspective #5

Apparently it doesn't have a beam weapon, which is what, to me, really set the ship apart. It's indirectly related o points cost balance, but is rather disappointing nonetheless.

 

Perspective #6

How does a PS3 Defender compare to a Bounty Hunter?

 

Defender Pros:

  • It's one point cheaper (32 vs 33)
  • It has one more agility.
  • It has a more maneuverable dial (assumed).
  • No evade action, but at least one of the pilots has some way to get an evade token. Assuming that this is available for all pilots, this is almost certainly a pro.
  • It has a small base, which is probably more well-suited to dogfighting.

Defender cons compared to the Bounty Hunter:

  • It has 1 less shield.
  • It has 3 less hull.
  • It has no rear arc.
  • It has no Crew slot.
  • It has no bomb / mine slot.

My impression is that the list of Cons outweighs the list of Pros. The 4 less hit points should give it less effective health even with an extra agility die.

 

 

 

Edit: Added Perspectives 5 and 6.

Edited by MajorJuggler
Shaadea and TheRealStarkiller like this

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1. We don't know the dial, except they have something we've never seen on a dial before and it looks to have a Straight 5 Green. I'm assuming the dial is insane.

 

2. Let's see what the Unique pilots do. Contrary to popular belief in the TIE Advanced threads, the generics don't necessarily tell the full story.

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2. Let's see what the Unique pilots do. Contrary to popular belief in the TIE Advanced threads, the generics don't necessarily tell the full story.

Agreed. Advance is meh. Vader is badass. Let's see who the pilots are.

 

I can only seem to find pictures of Rebel cards for wave 4, not Imperial ones. What gives?

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Probably want to save the real fun stuff for the preview articles.

 

And really, there is one maneuver it could have that could change the game. And if any ship could get it, it would be this one. White K-turn.

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I think it would be fine if the competitive builds with the new ships were not seen a lot. I think the headhunter will be, but imagine how obnoxious it would be to fight 3 tie defenders in every match. They should be rare and take careful planning to use. Plus, two of those with howl runner and a couple of academy ties could be pretty awesome.

oxymandias, Hinnyboy and oneway like this

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I'm thinking this wave, while obviously compatible with the current tournament game, is primarily designed with the new Epic Play variant in mind that hasn't been detailed yet. Could be wrong, but I expect epic play to involve significantly higher squad point totals, possibly 150+, so a 30+ point defender, while I agree it's potentially overpriced for the current meta, Could be quite playable. this wave, besides the headhunter, is full of powerful but quite expensive ships, that will likely see limited use in 100pt games but much more use in larger games. we also have not seen the named pilots, which could change the opinion. IE basic advanced vs Darth Vader. Vader is arguably a little pricey but is among the best pilots in the empire.

Edited by Engine25

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The Tie Defender just kind of confirms how I've felt about ship design. I feel you pay a higher premium for more health on high maneuverability. In effect, evade 3 ships pay way more for hull and shields while evade 1 ships like the Bwing and the Ywing get them cheap as chips. Several other games do this as well like 40k when you pay a much higher premium for models that can take multiple hits (more than one wound).

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I'm thinking this wave, while obviously compatible with the current tournament game, is primarily designed with the new Epic Play variant in mind that hasn't been detailed yet. Could be wrong, but I expect epic play to involve significantly higher squad point totals, possibly 150+, so a 30+ point defender, while I agree it's potentially overpriced for the current meta, Could be quite playable. this wave, besides the headhunter, is full of powerful but quite expensive ships, that still likely see limited use in 100pt games but much more use in larger games. we also have not seen the named pilots, which could change the opinion. IE basic advanced vs Darth Vader. Vader is arguably a little pricey but is among the best pilots in the empire.

 

That might be a good point and about how I've felt about the HWK-290 and Lambda, workable, but better suited to slightly larger games where you can spend points on force multipliers. It does seem a bit rough for points at the lowest level. Even with good pilots the price point probably isn't going down as you go up.

 

On the other hand it has bite and plenty of defense dice plus a straight 5 green. We might see these competitively in 100 pt games, maybe, just wouldn't expect more than a couple at most in a squadron.

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The Tie Defender just kind of confirms how I've felt about ship design. I feel you pay a higher premium for more health on high maneuverability. In effect, evade 3 ships pay way more for hull and shields while evade 1 ships like the Bwing and the Ywing get them cheap as chips. Several other games do this as well like 40k when you pay a much higher premium for models that can take multiple hits (more than one wound).

Well of course they do. With 3 evade dice, they're going to stretch them further.

 

Seriously, things like B-Wings and Y-Wings rack up damage in terms of % of their total HP just as fast as low HP, high evade ships. So far I've kinda had this unofficial idea that they try to balance it with most ships being able to take being fired upon about 3-4 times before they're toast. Any more than that and you can consider yourself as having gotten more mileage out of them than you intended.

Edited by That One Guy

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I am convinced the new maneuver will be a "yellow" maneuver. When you reveal it, you get an evade token. I bet there are a good # of them and this thing has "negate one hit" per turn on it. Not going to be ideal but going to be a lot tougher at 30pts than one thinks and EPTs are going to matter. A lot.

I also don't understand the "have to play 3" of them mentality here. It doesn't work with interceptors, hell, barely works with xwings anymore... Diversify.

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Yeah that's my thoughts too, hopefully something to add more strategic depth! It could certainly make its cost balanced as well, if it had enough yellow maneuvers. Time will tell.

The only thing that REALLY absolutely does not make sense is a PS1 Defender, given that "only the Empire’s most elite pilots were allowed to fly the TIE defender". You would think it would be PS2 and PS4.

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At 30pts I'm optimistic that it'll have a decent dial, the E-wing is at 27pts with evade and A-wing type dial (which is pretty good considering A wing dial is better than Tie interceptor's.

 

I find that the E-wing is a better option than the X-wing (better dial, better health, better maneuverability, more permanent defense die, more options, for only 6 more points, that's a steal [rookie x-wing to rookie e-wing). Prototype A-wing to rookie Ewing is a jump from 17points to 27, a 10 point difference in which the e-wing have more HP (3 shielding instead of 2), around the same dial, higher attack permanently, and better upgrade options (systems, missile, droids), but lose the boost. With That, it is still a pretty good upgrade.

 

Tie Defender's basic stats compared to Tie Interceptor is 12 more points for 3 more shields and 2 upgrade options (1 piloting skill Interceptor compared to 1 piloting skilled Defender).

 

So, I'll wait and see, I'm excited actually. 

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There's one thing that you seem to have forgotten in your calculations, the fact that, until the first defender drops, they'll be averaging a tie a turn, thus reducing the number of shots fired against them while the ties are unlikely to down a defender in the first round of fireing, possibly even the second. At least you addressed the fact that two die fired from two ships is less accurate than three dice from on ship but I always roll my eyes when I see people talk about total numbers of attack dice and health in a squad without regard for how many ships are sharing that pool.

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Yeah that's my thoughts too, hopefully something to add more strategic depth! It could certainly make its cost balanced as well, if it had enough yellow maneuvers. Time will tell.

The only thing that REALLY absolutely does not make sense is a PS1 Defender, given that "only the Empire’s most elite pilots were allowed to fly the TIE defender". You would think it would be PS2 and PS4.

I often thought about that with the A-wing's as well, but have come around to viewing it as "those pilots would probably have a higher pilot skill in a tie fighter - think of it as not just pilot skill person to person, but pilot skill in a specific ship, the P.S. 1 defender pilots probably just graduated from interceptors and are getting used to them, while the p.s. 3 defender pilots have had flight time in them.

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Yeah that's my thoughts too, hopefully something to add more strategic depth! It could certainly make its cost balanced as well, if it had enough yellow maneuvers. Time will tell.

The only thing that REALLY absolutely does not make sense is a PS1 Defender, given that "only the Empire’s most elite pilots were allowed to fly the TIE defender". You would think it would be PS2 and PS4.

 

PS1 while not making much sense from an "Elite" shooting standpoint.

From a flying standpoint they are very much "Elite" there are only 4 5 (just noticed the new E-Wings also have PS1) other ships that would match them for initiative. to an extent they have nearly complete control of their own movements and actions.

 

It's the PS3 generic that has me scratching my head and in agreement with you. being the top of the line super-fighter the second generic should have a higher base PS. but I'm going to guess they're like GSP A-Wings with an EPT.

Veteran Instincts only cost 1pt. but like most cases the EPT slot has far better options most of the time if you have points handy.

Edited by IvlerIin

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major juggler

 

in terms of the tie defender, yes it's barely more survivable than the advanced that never gets used. but there is a HUGE damage spilling difference between 2 attack dice and 3 attack dice as with 3 dice you are likely to be putting at least one point of damage through each turn on any given ship you're attacking

 

fact 2, learn to play alpha squadron interceptors in a competitive list because you've clearly never done it before. or you'd see just how potent they are when flown correctly

 

fact 3: there are still plenty of unknowns about the ship such as it's maneuver dial, pilot abilities and the new future upgrade cards

 

fact 4: it's not overcosted at all considering that 3 agility makes each hit point that much tougher to strip off

 

though it's unlikely that the defender is going to be seen competitively in a spam list of 3 of them; i'm sure you will definitely see many competitive lists containing at least one of them and maybe 2 (assuming the dial doesn't completely suck)

 

and if their dial is absolutely amazing and near interceptor quality you may even see competitive 3 ship builds

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How can you say it's barely more survivable than a TIE Advanced when you haven't seen a maneuver dial for the TIE D?  Movement has a lot to do with survivability.  It's only got an extra shield point for hitpoints, but it could have all kinds of other tricks in store.

 

Really, until the ships are released and some games get played, the point values are not going to make sense.  Perhaps give FFG the benefit of the doubt and wait and see how the things play before doubting them on everything based on the initial announcement?

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...

Really, until the ships are released and some games get played, the point values are not going to make sense.  Perhaps give FFG the benefit of the doubt and wait and see how the things play before doubting them on everything based on the initial announcement?

but that would be so not like the internet. ;)

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Seems like my first take on the Defender was the closest one :Dhttp://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/74919-tie-defender-values/page-5#entry896491

 

 

At this time I haven't thought about the Avenger ... so Im now worried about if there is a gap for it to fill in.

And there still is one: BEAM WEAPONS!

 

...

 

BUT: I find the PS1 @ 30 points disturbing. It should start with a 2 or even a 3 for there point costs.

Lets hope for a completely amazing dial with white K-turns or free actions / free evades in it ... !

Edited by TheRealStarkiller

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Yeah, there is obviously no free actions. There is nothing on the card to indicate this. And the fact that it only has the rules card for Mods and Ions, I seriously doubt they are reinventing the wheel with a new maneuver. A white K-turn is looking more and more likely.

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