With the halt to 1.0 re-prints could we soon be seeing a new third format that is all the 2nd edition product, which sees current Extended format shunted down the tournament pecking order?
After reading David Sutcliffe’s latest offering in Stay on the Leader Blog, it poked the idea in my head about a third competitive format and whether Extended format as we know it won’t make it into 2021.
If you have not read Stay on the Leader, you should do. David covers a broad perspective of issues, which is why I like it. Although mainly touching from the tournament circuit viewpoint, there are many other threads he picks up upon, (the buying guide for new players is excellent). Last week looked at the release schedule and company buyouts. It is very insightful and from my own experience in life, is probably bang on the money.
I’m going to meander a bit before getting to the meat of the article, “is extended format as we know it on borrowed time?”
I like the format. Back when 2nd edition dropped I don’t think I would have been so accommodating to a heavily curated format, but we are now near 18 months into 2nd edition and having a proper second format to play in is good and exciting for the player base. Its also sound business sense if that format is accessible to all your customers, past and present, and has new toys being dropped into it at the beginning like Vonrag and B-wing B-foils (or whatever its called).
The thing that surprised me was not that the new Hyperspace format was 2nd edition product only, but some of that product, being entire ships chassis didn’t make the cut. I had a inkling that Soontir Fel would not be in, but the entire of the Tie Interceptors? Also, the Bulabub and V-19 Torrents got the chop too.
I have mixed feelings about Ensnare going as an option for the Nantex. It is an interesting mechanic but also reminds me of the agency robbing Lash Of Submission from Warhammer 40K back in the day. In the Wild West of Extended its still there and it was perhaps deemed too strong for a heavily restricted format but also makes the ship much less viable.
There is, in general, a fair amount of list building options, although it does mean for some players the need to look outside their favourite faction or ship pool. This is a problem if you don’t have multiple factions which is a reasonable downside to the format, (but might make you splash some cash). While the format brings some ships more to the sharp end of viability, especially combined with the new points costs, the CIS, for example, have got a raw deal with the combination of the Nantex Hyperspace nerf and the exclusion of the Bulabub.
Droid swarms are still pretty decent mind.
Current halt to reprints of 1.0 ships
Despite being happy from a personal perspective of not needing to buy the separate T-65 or tie advanced when 2nd edition was launched, it was a business own goal. The new card packs are pretty nice and clearly popular but I would go one step further. If re-releasing 1.0 reprints in 2021, I would include some new pilots and faction-specific upgrades. I would also start releasing different paint schemes of a ship like a blue squadron T-65 from rogue one, Tie royal guard interceptor or different Jedi aethersprites. I would just have one or two pilot options and be light to none existant on upgrade cards in them.
We have seen FFG do event alt paint schemes plus a limited run available on their website, but I’d mass market it. People will buy it. Why have a limited run, charge the same standard price, then watch someone make a mark up on it on ebay or wherever? As it is, no 1.0 reprints from after wave 6 for the rest of this year. It would then make sense to have a format that would enable all released 2nd edition product to be used. Especially if the aim is to bolster sales of 2nd edition product over using old conversion kit first edition product.
Games Workshop did make a decision to remove older models from their codexes, (army books), and place them in a Legends line due to the models either being out of production or not fitting their ideas for the army any more. This enabled them to sell what product they still had, give them rules so they can be used, but it would have to be in a Legends format.
Should Extended and Hyperspace have different points values?
My current personal opinion is yes they should. Luke Skywalker or Kylo Ren should probably be more expensive in Hyperspace than Extended, or cheaper in Extended. The flip side is that having differing costs for ships and upgrades between formats, even though its all app-based, is that it can be confusing for players and also a massive faff to playtest, apply to the app and so forth. In a perfect world I would have different costs and perhaps even different slots between formats, but in a non-perfect world, I certainly would keep it all the same for the sake of simplicity.
One downside is that in the less play tested format, some ships and upgrades become under costed. Resources are only finite, and when you have more than one format, one of them has to become prioritised.
Wild West of Extended
Back in 2012 Warhammer 40K 6th Edition dropped. GW had stopped running proper competitive tournaments in 2010 so the communities stepped up more with events. There was not so much of a general format as 6th edition had opened up a sandbox of options for army building. You had to carefully check each event’s army building restrictions in terms of what was and was not allowed.
It became a Wild West of a tournament scene where sometimes “any bat shit crazy could happen,” to quote a former UK champion of the era. Looking at Extended, which to be fair I’ve mainly been concentrating playing Hyperspace for the UK system open of late, the new points update brings to me similar feelings. It’s a delicate balance of the old argument GW had that people should be allowed to use all their toys even if it’s from their more expensive collectors ranges with poorly written rules and no testing.
Don’t get me wrong, I love flying my Tie Phantom, quite enjoy the K-wing, adore the aesthetic of the Tie Defender (plus the white K-turns) and had fun with a whole variety of ships that will not be Hyperspace legal in any foreseeable future. From a business point of view, I get Hyperspace and support it for the game to survive and grow. What worries me is if Hyperspace becomes the tested and balanced play area and some Extended ships become forgotten about, such as the Tie Punisher, and thus run amok in the Extended format.
May or may not be a bad thing, very much personal opinion on that, but for a new player coming into the game trying to score stuff off the second-hand market to be competitive, it’s not great business for FFG nor excellent for growing your player base. At least with GW, Forge World products could officially be bought directly from GW. Once you had sold your spare kidney.
Based on past experience of other game systems, a tight and controlled competitive format is far more desirable than the Wild West of anything goes. When 40K devolved into letting Forge World, allies and super heavies into the regular competitive gaming environment, it became a joke. For the uninitiated, it would be like being able to take a fully decked out Imperial raider, allied with Fenn Rau, a traj simm punisher and a tie academy, (because you have to), all for 200 points.
That’s not to say that may not be a fun thing to play with or against under a pre-game agreement with your opponent for fun or storytelling. But it’s not a great experience or direction for tournament play, especially for a new player rocking up.
Should there be a third Format?
From a business perspective, I’d be tempted to have a third, halfway house format between current Hyperspace and Extended. Mainly being all 2ndedition ship chassis and most of the pilots, similar to old Hyperspace. With more upgrade choices and ships to choose from than Hyperspace, but still giving the new player the option of not having to scour eBay for a Tie Punisher or Gunboat. A result of doing this could result in pushing the current Extended format to a more casual bring what you like format for fun.
Hyperspace Format: current New Hyperspace of heavily curated ship, pilot and upgrade cards
Extended: All released 2nd edition product
Legendary Format (or some other name): all product including everything from the conversion kits, your punishers, gunboats, Scurggs, etc. You know, the fun stuff.
From a business point of view, this is sensible and from a competitive tournament side, it allows the available product line to be balanced better, (in theory), or adjusted to drive sales but not too overtly power creeping.
If using this sort of format I would make Worlds, Continentals (Euros), Nationals (Grands) and System Opens a combination of Hyperspace and the New Extended format. The same with regionals and Store champs. Legendary Format, (current Extended) would get pushed back as an available option for a Q kit. I would possibly still have it as a 2nd-day tournament at a System Open as a System Open is supposed to be a celebration of the hobby.
By the time we roll round to this time next year, there should be enough 2nd edition X-wing product to make this a reality. Like I said earlier, I like my Tie Phantom and a range of other Extended ships. I also like a decent competitive format that is as balanced as it possibly can be. Pure balance is difficult to impossible to achieve and pure balance is not always a business aim either. Although I do feel looking at the New Hyperspace format, power creeping in the obvious way is not on the agenda.
I do feel that with the company restructuring and decision to not produce 1.0 reprints for the rest of 2020, a third format, all-inclusive 2nd edition only, could be on the table to drive the sales of 2nd edition product.
What do you feel?