Thursday, November 12, 2015

Armada: List building introspective

But why male models?

Over the last couple of days, I've been building lists like crazy.  I've been toying around with hundreds and hundreds of possible Rebel and Imperial lists and I've been having a lot of fun.  However, one of the things I noticed myself struggling with is how to balance out my lists.  I'm talking about not overloading on upgrades, taking squadrons, making sure that my list synergizes, and if the points I'm spending on something is worth it.

Before I talk about anything, I want to talk about what I noticed about this game coming from a long history of GW games.  For some reason, I feel that I've become very acclaimated with the game already despite having only demoed it before with the starter set.  I've played a lot of BFG and Epic 40K way back in the day, so I'm no stranger to games that are based on grand strategy.  When doing research for Armada, I was able to soak in a ton of information from the official forums, youtube videoes, battle reports, and reading over all the different cards.  It's also nice having a few tournament-level players that I can bounce ideas off.

It might be the competitive gamer in me or something, but I noticed myself finding out all kinds of combos by just reading the cards.  I really think it has something to do playing all those years of imbalanced GW games and all those years of competitive Warmahordes play.  For example, there's quite a few cards in Star Wars Armada that I view as completely points ineffective and there's no reason for me to ever take them.  I essentially judge a card or upgrade's effectiveness based on a large number of things.  For the most part, I look at the cost of the card and weigh in its overall effect on the battlefield:  These can include how often will it come into play during the battle, how powerful will that effect be, and how easy can it be countered or nullified by the opponent.  For example:  Ackbar benefits all of my ships, it has a tremendous effect on the battlefield (bonus firepower), the power itself cannot be nullified by the opponent, and it happens often (every time I shoot, even more so with Gunnery Team).  On the flip side, most of the one-use only cards are completely useless to me for a number of reasons.  The first one is that it's one-use only, the second is that it takes up a slot where something more permanent can be slotted, and the third, the power level of the effect is not powerful enough to swing the battle.  I'm looking at you Lando.

I guess it's safe to say that I only enjoy taking the cards that are good.  I am a competitive player after all and I fully intend on competing in nearby events.  However, I'm noticing a problem with how I'm designing and building lists.  As some of you guys know, the recent Worlds winner won with 8 squads of A-Wings.  That's not to say that A-Wings are overpowered (they are very strong though), it's just that against a list that's not prepared to face against them, they completely dominate.  The difficult part for me is striking a balance between the effectiveness of your fleet (which I consider your capital ships) and your squadron intake.

So here lies the problem:  Squadrons are not cheap.  When you examine them strictly based on point values, you can see that they cost more than some of your most powerful upgrades.  A single A-Wing squadron for example, costs as much as two XI7 Turbolasers, which I would consider is one of the most cost effective upgrades in the game.  However, a single A-Wing does have nearly the same of impact as equipping two of your capital ships with the XI7s.  This is when you have to accept the fact that the power of wings lie completely in numbers.  Numbers because of the amount of dice that they can throw; taking into account their strength vs. enemy fighters and their overall effectiveness against enemy ships.  This is when you start evaluating your wing choices a little more.  If you choose to invest in a Rhymerball, how effective will this be if your opponent just happens to run a good amount of fighters?  What if you have a bunch of fighters but he doesn't have any bombers to fight at all?  What if you brought a few squadrons but he brings a few more, or better quality fighters and you lose the air war?  This irrevocably means that the points you spend on squadrons during list building can have either very positive or very negative effect to the rest of your fleet.  This is due to the fact that points are a shared resource, one that has to be split or not split depending on whether you choose to invest in wings at all.  It's a gamble, and a very serious one at that.

I think the one thing that sticks out like a sore thumb for me is exactly how this gamble I just described fits into the big points picture.  In order for you to take squadrons, you have to sacrifice points that could have been used for your capital ships (the main damage contributors to the battle).  To make matters worse (or rather, more realistic), if you brought squadrons that are ineffective vs. your opponent, that means he has used his points much better than you and have most likely invested in better capital ships.  This means that the game be very RPS (Rock-Paper-Scissors) based on lists alone, without players even putting their models on the table.  The current World Champion knows what I'm talking about and has pretty much confirmed my thoughts on the matter.

So what now?  Do I spend the points on squadrons, or do I just concentrate on making my fleet more powerful and hope I draw the right matchups?  Think about this more, I will.

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