Monday, August 8, 2016

Armada: How much should you bid?

Peekaboo.. I'll take first.

That's kinda the question I'm asking myself over and over again when designing lists these days.  I'm not a super big fan of just how bids work in the face place, and as we face more ship-heavy damage-dealing archetypes like the DeMSU-variants and Rebel Swarms with the MC30s, those lists can bid up to a lot of points.  What kind of bids am I talking about?  Well, I've seen bids all the way to 373 before which is absolutely ridiculous.  The dude basically said:  I don't care about anything else as long as I go first.  Hmm.. quite crazy I thought, but maybe he has a point in some instances.

For example, let's examine two lists that I'm using with Ackbar.

The first list I'm going to show you is ACKBAR1.  This is already a tournament-winning list that evolved from a no-squadron, 3-ship control-heavy build with IOs, to this masterpiece you see right here.  Sure, the list is not for everyone, but I manage to make it work and work really effectively.  Notice the bid here at 392.  I would now consider this in the realm of a mediocre bid.  Before the DeMSU and the Rebel Swarm, this would be considered a pretty high-bid, especially when you didn't see anything else run below 390 for the most part.  Just look at this article that I wrote in December.  Can you see the difference between the meta then and now?  And this is without Wave 4 hitting the storefront yet.  This is purely within the time it took for Wave 2 to release to now, after the GenCon Nationals.  My my, how things have changed.

So now I'm going to show you another list.  This is ACKBAR2, which is the list I was going into the tournament season with after Wave 4 came out.  The difference here is a pretty big difference in bid:  392 vs. 384.  This 8-point difference is pretty big when you consider the fact that you can pretty much buy Raymus Antilles or add another TIE Fighter.  For a quick second, swing on over to the official forums and take a look at this chart.  To sum things up a bit here:  Only a certain percentage of players running specific fleet archetypes are going to be running insanely high bids.  The other percentage will fall into the category where they don't care if they go second because their fleet is designed to be bulky, or alpha-strike resistant like Rieekan Carriers.  Everything else falls somewhere in between.  These are your typical "balanced" lists for the most part, but also archetypes that have cut a few upgrades here and there to win initiative over the rest of the meta.  I mean, that's the entire reason why I cut Jaina's Light even though it was just 2 points.  A lot of lists that I was seeing was running 392-4, so I decided to run it tighter to beat them all.

Here's what you typically bid if you want Initiative.

For me, I fall into this camp of thinking.  It might sound pretty extreme at first, but hear me out:  The first step is to find out what the meta is, both locally, regionally and nationally.  This also means reaching out and playing games on Vassal if you want to be familiar with what kind of lists are the world playing.  Now that you've done that, you should have a pretty good idea of what kind of archetypes exist, what their typical bids are, and what your list aims to do.  The last part is strictly fleet and admiral dependent:  It defines you as a player, what your playstyle is and how personally aim to do with the fleet that you constructed.  If you absolutely have to go first because you're running something like DeMSU or MC30s, then you better go big or don't bother.  This direction of thinking comes from the fact that if you're not going to beat XYZ from going first anyway, you might as well spend the rest on upgrades to make your list more effective.  However, this clause changes if you know there are certain numbers your competitors are running.  You might want to cut a upgrade here or there just so you can outrun those lists.

Step #1:
If you absolutely want initiative:  Go big or go home.
If you don't care either way:  Build your list as normal and don't worry about initiative.
If you don't want initiative and want to play missions:  Max out your points.

Step #2:
Now take your analysis of typically run lists in the meta, and decide whether or not you want to outrun those lists.  If so, cut more.  If not, keep your list the way it is.

When I say outrun, I'm actually referring to a Pokemon term used in competitive battling.  Sometimes, you absolutely need to outrun a specific Pokemon or risk getting one-shotted:  Thus, it is often wise to build lists that are flexible enough to be both first and second player.

Keep in mind that I'm not a super big fan of how initiative is done in the first place in this game, especially when it comes to bidding.  There is too much emphasis on bidding for certain lists and the advantages for activating first are IMO, almost too worth it.  It's not like X-Wing where Pilot Skill is a larger determination of activation order and what not.  Personally, and this is just throwing ideas out there:  I wouldn't mind if it was a dice off on the blue, with the person with the better bid only losing initiative on accuracies.

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