There has been some backlash on Faeces Book and other social media but at the same time there has been a lot of happy people too with the nerf to Triple Contracted Scouts. This is my thoughts on the subject
So the new FAQ dropped and triple U-boats dropped out of sight with it. With dead eye changed to small ship only contracted scouts have lost their easy to launch alpha strike. The net result allowing more variety of other builds back into the meta that would be torpedoed out of existence by triple contracted scouts.
Is a radical FAQ change good for the game?
There has been some rattle throwing as well as celebration. This is the first big nerf to something in X-wing that has made a squad build or two obsolete. Before that there was the change to the Tie Phantom’s decloak which as a Tie Phantom player at the time, (and still am), I felt it was appropriate and fair. This one will polarise some players but let’s look at what another leading game company does with it’s FAQs, good old Games Workshop.
Before the bashing of the easy target commences, in Games Workshop’s defence they have made a strapline of stating in recent years that they are not a games company, but a model company. So rules and the art of playing their games are strictly secondary. That said until I picked up X-wing a couple of years ago, (the birth of my daughter had a fantastic silver lining), as a Warhamer 40K player we had to wait years between FAQs of which half the content was pointless and did not address any specific issues with GW’s bad grammar and ill thought out rules. Furthermore they often ignored feedback from playtesters and would not have changed game mechanics like the Phantom decloak or changed the dead eye to small ship only. We know best was the mantra the play testers got back. Slannesh Lash of Submission was a big case in point.
The net result of 40K till the quagmire of the new seventh edition was incredibly static metas for years with some armies and units completely unplayable in both tournament and casual scenes. 40K has now devolved to the point of even playing a friendly fun game can melt down into something very one sided and unenjoyable due to the games designers not being diligent with their rule making and rule interactions.
FFG by contrast invests in an active tournament scene which GW rubbed it’s hands clean of. The benefit of an active tournament scene and actively growing it is twofold. It helps create a stable core client base that can be relied upon to purchase product. Although the tournament community in most hobbies is far smaller than the casual it gives the company what most companies in any form of sales like, (not GW though), repeat business. Not in general massively large purchases coming from the repeat buyer but it gives you constant dependable revenue. A bit like a basic wage plus commission. Your repeat hard core client base is your basic wage.
The other benefit which percolates down to the entire player base is that you get a massive amount of feedback and data on how your product is being played and what is and is not a successful gaming mechanic. The more cutthroat environment of the tournament scene is effectively a massive play test session. This allows the game designers to be proactive and amend things based on the data if they choose to do so. The fact that rebels in most forms had been squeezed out of the tournament meta is not good. Not good for the game and balance in general as well as sales of the products especially to new players who in today’s internet world will check out net lists and ship reviews about what and what not to buy.
I feel that FFG have been proactive and made a sensible amendment to nerf the triple contacted scout. For the good of the game in general and the sales of rebels and other ships something needed to be done. When I mention to improve sales of other ships I do not mean it cynically either as you need the company and product to be economically healthy for the game to have a continued good health and future. Shaking up the variety of the meta again in the tournament scene also helps percolate different builds to the wider community which for rebels won’t be purely built around Ghosts, Dash and Biggs.
Are Contracted Scouts dead?
In their present format obviously yes but it would not be too hard to venture just outside of the box to run a triple scout list still that might still be able to cut the mustard.
2 x Contracted Scout: Attani Mindlink, extra munitions, plasma torpedoes, Guidence chips
Manaroo: Attani Mindlink, extra munitions, plasma torpedoes, K4 Securtiy Droid, Guidence chips
Two points spare which could go on either an unhinged agromech on Manaroo and Zuckuss elsewhere or swap mindlink on manaroo for push the limits, or whatever.
The downside of this is acquiring the target lock but if you can then you should be able to get focus tokens to go with it providingat least one ship does a focus action. Further tinkering could involve swapping Manaroo out for a standard scout.
Contracted Scout: Attani Mindlink, plasma torpedoes, Intel agent, Guidence chips
2 x Contracted Scout: Attani Mindlink, extra munitions, plasma torpedoes, K4 Securtiy Droid, unhinged agromech, Guidence chips
Firstly I’m not going to say in any way shape or form that these lists or deriving one from them will bring instant success as Deadeye was a huge chunk in making them powerful. On the other hand when the enemy got in amongst the scouts the scout player had to reset and there where opportunities to lay down a target lock whilst repositioning for another attack run. The removal of Dead Eye just makes the initial engagement more difficult to deliver the alpha strike.
The problem is deducing whether this more difficult initial engagement makes triple U-boats unplayable or not. With all the new shiny toys Scum have got from wave nine Scum players have been moving away from the staple of U-boats. I expect an initial rise in Dengaroo as a knee jerk reaction for those owning Jumpmasters so the likelihood of many triple U-boats players sticking with it and trying to stick the middle finger up to the FAQ will be small.
Regardless whether you like the nerf or not the positive is that FFG are being proactive in keeping the game in general balanced and varied and to keep as many ships as possible relevant. I’m not sure about the Heavy Scyk title change being enough but they will certainly be gracing the table top a bit in the next few months.
Triple Scouts are dead, Heavy Scyk meta incoming?