Rather than put out a wish list of reductions and increases, I’m more interested in the approach FFG are going to take with the point and slot adjustment.
I’m trying to beat the digital FFG boat by writing this nine days into January. Whether it’s as slow as the physical boat I don’t know, but the mood is taking me. FFG have said that they can add or remove slots from ships and naturally increase or decrease costings on ships and upgrades. Historically in the past, (1.0), FFG edged on the side of conservative changes. It took multiple attempts to nerf the Jumpmaster and even at the end of all that Dengar was still good and triple or quadruple scouts were still potent in the right hands.
Im interested in what they will do in terms of Hyperspace and Extended, across the board changes or faction/ship specific and whether they will utilize slot removal or addition.
Hyperspace vs Extended
One hypothesis floating about is that they will not adjust extended format. This is based on the theory that Hyperspace contains all the new upcoming product in wave 3 and is the format for all competitions except system opens.
The issue here though is that system opens are the shop window with a bigger appeal to the whole spectrum of the player base than any other events. UK System Open is on track to sell out at 672 players. I’d hazard a guess that after the hand slap by Disney of querying where are all the tie fighters and X-wings at a system open a couple of years back that they will at least want to maintain some sort of attempt at balance in Extended in the short term.
Its good practice to at least toy with the balance of possible upcoming ships from extended that will hit in waves four to six — also its good practice to make these events appealing to the new players that don’t have access to Tie Punishers and what not and to be competitive. It is a shop window after all like international team sports are.
The other argument for Hyperspace only is that it offers an easier amount of ships and upgrades to get ‘right.’ You are never likely to get pure balance in a game, especially a tabletop miniatures game with multiple interactions going on, and there is also a need to shift new product. There is a distinct business advantage in making the new product competitive or with a competitive edge to sell it.
Are Resistance and First Order going to get a tweak?
I would be surprised if they did not get some sort of adjustments here and there. Although you could say that there is little tournament data to go on, if FFG are going to adjust the cost of most large based ships for example then the Resistance Falcon, Starfortress and the Upsilon look still to be slightly too expensive, and are currently in line with the price structure for all the other large based ships except the Scum Falcon. If they reduce the cost of the rebel Falcon, then the Resistance Falcon should also get a drop.
I would be surprised if at the conception of 2.0 that FFG did not consider points costs and stats for First Order and Resistance. These may have been tweaked a bit in the case of points costings in the run-up to wave two’s release and could still need a bit of adjustment.
Internal faction balance or external?
In other miniature games that I have played, some items cost different points in different factions or like with Hull and shield upgrades have a different cost based on the base stat that they are upgrading. For example in Warhammer 40K, in general, a power fist, (which doubled your strength for combat attacks) would cost 15 points for base strength 3 and 25 points for base strength 4 or above. Some weapons and items, (rightly or wrongly), costed more in one faction than another.
Something we have seen already is that the Resistance A-wings are a lot cheaper and better than the Rebel A-wings comparatively. The natural conclusion is that the price of the A-wing for rebels may go down, but it could also just as easily stay the same. If FFG is balancing factions internally then the fact that the Resistance A-wing is effectively cheaper or a better buy as a direct comparison doesn’t really matter. As a side note, I do feel that rebel A-wings are slightly expensive by a couple of points although that is probably by design so that you can’t field seven A-wings in a squad.
This is the part that I find interesting as an approach. Will they start to price upgrades on a faction basis or ship basis rather than currently across the board? For example, they could make Proton torpedoes cost 8 points for scum, 9 points for rebels and 12 points for Imperials. This approach gives greater flexibility in balancing a faction.
The Tie Punisher Redline is good not because of trajectory simulator, advanced sensors or the price of Proton torpedoes or having a systems slot, but because he has a great pilot ability, (and an under costed chassis), that allows him to get double modified torpedo shots very easily. All the other bits are gravy added to the base of double modified torpedo shots with nine health to hide behind. Bumping up the cost of Proton torpedoes aggressively across the board to solve the ‘Redline problem’ will have knock-on effects on other factions like rebels in particular which seem to be clinging to proton torpedoes to keep them near the top tables.
Utilizing the Tech
The app could be used to do the above. You could even do it on an individual ship by ship basis. Other options if looking at the Proton Torpedo could be to base the costing by initiative as low initiative torpedo carriers find it harder to offload them:
Example proton torpedo cost based on Initiative
Initiative 1-2: 6 points
Initiative 3-4: 9 points
Initiative 5-6: 12 points
Literally, just spitballing the numbers in there, and you possibly may want to have the lower initiative carriers cheaper still to 4 or 5 points. Even then it may still not be a good tactic to run ordnance on low initiative ships, but it is something the APP could, (or should), be able to do.
One of the things not spoken about much on blogs and podcasts in terms of the upcoming ‘re-balancing’ is the addition or removal of slots. If we pick again on poor old Redline for a moment, it highlights options and issues of just changing points across the board to fix one ‘problem’ ship.
How do we solve a problem like Redline if we have decided it’s a problem and that we want to change it or restrict it? Naturally, we can bump up the cost of Redline as well as the cost of all the upgrades that make it good like Trajectory Simulator, Advanced Sensors, proton torpedoes and possibly even bombs. The issue is the amount of a price hike on any of these upgrade options to make Redline’s point cost adequate has knock-on effects for any other ship that uses these upgrades. That in effect reduces the effect of the nerf to Redline as it nerfs every other ship that uses said upgrades.
Pushing up the cost of Trajectory simulator will hurt Scum’s Captain Nym who has to pay a 5 point tax to get it, but gets Genius for free as a tradeoff. Scurggs, in general, need a decrease and maybe something else. If Nym gets a decrease, but trajectory goes up in price, we may continue to see very little of Nym, (good or bad, you decide, (free Havoc title?)).
You could take the sensor slot away from Redline to remove the option of advanced sensors or trajectory simulator but without a price hike on torpedoes and mainly the Redline chassis, we will still see Redline aplenty. Tomax Bren at I5 with proton torpedoes and Fifth Brother gunner to give you a force token to get a pseudo double modified torpedo shot is currently 55 points. Redline with proton torpedo only is 53 points; it’s not a hard decision on which one to take in your squad.
Unlocking the genie
As with any attempt to change the meta, all that you really do is shift it. With a points rebalance something else can slip the net and come from nowhere. There is a lot of justified clamouring for the E-wing to get a points reduction across all pilots. The points shift could open up some interesting new squads as you can run currently:
2 x Rogue Squadron E-wing, (I4), with Trickshot, R3 Astro Mech, Proton Torpedoes
Biggs Darklighter T65
Or swap the 2 Rogues for Knaves and have another 6 points to put on Biggs or something.
If Biggs Darklighter, R3 Astro Mech, proton torpedoes and selfless stay the same points for Rebels and the E wing gets a drop in points of at least 2 points per ship, welcome to the Selfless Rogue squadron and Biggs meta. It needs tight formation flying and whilst not quite triple jumpmasters of 1.0. it should be able to pack a hefty punch against most lists and has decent survivability.
Waiting for the Digital Boat
It is going to be interesting and refreshing, to say the least when the changes occur. I’m guessing towards the end of the month. As I stated at the beginning, I’m really interested in how FFG handle and apply changes as the APP format offers a lot of potential for diverse and clever ways to balance ships and upgrades.
Past form has generally been conservative in approach, and I will be a little surprised if they swing heavy for current problem ships in extended. Will we see Redline hit with slot removal and price hikes? I’m not sure that they will do both although a left-field option could be the removal of the torpedo slot on punishers and even bombers too to make Imperials the ‘missile’ faction. The APP does offer a fair few possibilities that won’t be chiselled in stone for all eternity.
My main hope is that FFG utilizes the technology available and don’t make across the board knee jerk price hikes and deductions on general upgrades and look at internal balance for factions rather than comparative ship costings from faction to faction. I’m hoping that they look further forward than just cranking up or down the costs of generic upgrades across the board like proton torpedoes and look at methods they have employed with Hull and shield upgrades.
We should find out soon, digital boat and tides permitting.
Unit next time, Fly Fabulous.