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Lessons Learned from a "Learn and Play" FSA Game Day

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Hey all, just wanted to share my experiences today from a 8-player event I helped organize at our FLGS.  This may come in handy for players looking to introduce others to FSA.

 

  • We called the event "Learn and Play" to make a welcoming scene for noobs
  • The date and time was announced several weeks in advance, with a Facebook page and a paper flyer near the retail display
  • The fleet size was set at 600pts
  • The goal was to play two games in the span of 12noon to 6pm, with a 30ish minute break between
  • We wanted to match players on level of experience
  • The goal was to get 6-8 players to participate
  • We offered 'loaner fleets'
  • We discouraged the use of TAC cards, but let players make up their own mind (none decided to use them)

Here's what we learned

  • 10 players showed up
    • 3 of whom had never played a single game
    • 3 of whom owned zero models (not the same 3, interestingly)
    • 5 of whom RSVP'd via Facebook and another 3 via text/email
    • 7 of whom had played fewer than five games
    • Despite our advertising, only one of which wasn't already a friend or acquaintance of another player 
    • Mission accomplished!  :D
  • "theredepeic" and myself immediately realized the need for us not to play ourselves, and instead serve as coach and referee for the other 8.  That's a ratio of 1 referee per 4 players and we had our hands full
  • Space at a premium, we played on 4x4 game boards
  • We had plenty of terrain for 25% coverage, even it's just colored felt/paper cut in shapes, that's fine, and set up most of the boards for the players (in advance)
  • Most people showed up on time, but it was 30-45 minutes until we started games
  • Games took between 2hr and 3.5hr to finish, even at 600pt and on a smaller board!
  • After first game was over EVERYONE felt done.  Zero people were interested in a 2nd game, so we 'called it' at 4:30.  So much for a 2 game day!
  • Help people with their lists (meaning build them for them) so that games are fair-ish
  • People are either amused or annoyed by the exploding 6 mechanic, but it was a big topic of conversation
  • Organizers: No need for trophies, announcements, or unnecessary complexity, just help people setup and show them how to play, answer questions
  • Your social/gaming network is the 'draw' not flyers or websites

I got a sense that it was 50/50 if the newbies would come back or not.  The event seemed to provide some excuse for people with fleets sitting in the closet to dust them off, and perhaps they'll want to play more (can't tell yet).  The majority of the players fell into this category of "I have some models lying around, it would be cool to finally play".  The store was kind to host and give us tables.  The complaints I heard that demotivate people to play FSA are: games take too long, too random (exploding 6), life/family/priorities.  The positives I hear are: low $ cost to buy (compared to 40k or Warmachine) and good ruleset/fun to play, ships look cool.

Overall it was a fun day, although a little exhausting to organize.  I hope it will bring more people to our venue.   I hope this post helps you consider/plan similar events in your area.

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A true marmite system.

 

 

 

What, dare I ask, is a "true marmite system"?

 

I'm guessing this is a British colloquialism of which I'm not familiar.

 

I played a couple of games of a different game system this weekend and had a blast.  No exploding D6s used in that one but dice are dice. Sometimes you fire 3 railgun shots and blow up a pretty painted tank. Sometimes you can't hit the side of a barn (*literally* dammit - stupid ones). There's nothing better or terribly worse (I still wish there was a cap of one explosion per d6 rolled, sort of like beam dice) about Spartan's method.

 

I'd say to remind players that the law of averages should work out over most games. Will the odd 1/20 game be ruined? Yes, but that's true of any system.  You can pick up six dice for six 2+ saves and roll six ones. Stuff happens; just keep in mind the same thing should happen to your opponents some day (you just might be there to witness it ;) ).  And try and downplay the effect.

 

If someone rolls seven 6s and five 2s and three 1s on 15 dice they're really not that above average.  And what's the net effect?  If you're hitting something with a CR of 10 you just went from a crit to....the exact same crit. That's the beauty of the double the CR system. It's really hard to take a handful of dice and really destroy something.  Sometimes it'll happen but you can't make battle plans on something that random. The better player with the better list will consistently win. Period.

 

And for some people, even with that speech, the exploding system will just be too much of a turnoff. Those people aren't bad people because of it.  And don't try and make them out to be. That leaves a bad taste in the mouth of people who are borderline.  I've walked away from systems where people who question things walked off and the demo person said "what's that guy's problem?".  His "problem" is that he thinks for himself. I'm the kind of guy who would tell the demo person that and walk away as well ;).

 

The people who don't want an exploding mechanic will find games that do suit them and they should. Everyone should be able to have fun in the way they need/want.

 

Brian K.

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So what MFV did you use?

600

 

 

The people who don't want an exploding mechanic will find games that do suit them and they should. Everyone should be able to have fun in the way they need/want.

Bravo well said.  For those who don't like random, there is always chess.  Beyond that, people tolerate varying degrees of randomness.  Fair enough, Firestorm's hilarity of exploding 6s is something I find amusing.  Not all share my opinion.  At least locally and anecdotally I see 6s it dissuading those who think more competitively and strategically (both in gameplay and list building) to continue with Firestorm. generally speaking.

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I agree on loving the exploding 6's,
It gives even the underdog little guys a chance to hurt a dread!

I like that it adds the slightly chaotic element of everything being able to hurt everything... however unlikely - It can also make for some great moments in game IMHO.

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Thanks for sharing the information. Will use this when organizing similar events in North Jersey. So far have only had to work with 2 or so at a time but want to grow our Saturday crowd more. 

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Bravo well said. For those who don't like random, there is always chess. Beyond that, people tolerate varying degrees of randomness. Fair enough, Firestorm's hilarity of exploding 6s is something I find amusing. Not all share my opinion. At least locally and anecdotally I see 6s it dissuading those who think more competitively and strategically (both in gameplay and list building) to continue with Firestorm. generally speaking.

I consider myself a hyper competitive person. The last time I walked into Toy Solder Games one of the regulars saw me and said, "There he is! The Directorate Master. Who you gonna massacre today?". After I played my opponent he said to me, "Damn man. Damn. That's one hell of a tough list. Directorate are nasty built that way". Both of those things brought a spark of joy to my (bitter) heart.

But here's the thing. I love competition, not slaughter. I want my opponents to do their damndest to beat me. I want them to bring tough lists. I don't enjoy tabling an enemies' fleet unless they nearly table mine in return. And if I think my list is too tough for someone I'll tone it down. The best games, I feel, are the ones that are decided on the last turn by the last sets of rolls.

So when I saw I want a competitive game where luck plays less of a factor - it's not that I don't want a fun game. It's that I want both people to have fun and I think having too many random events prevents that. Firestorm sits at a good balance. Sure luck exists but skill and list building play (in my experience!) a greater factor and the better player will win more consistently.

Either way though - I commend you for the service you just ran for this community! Taking the time to show the game off - even if you just convert one player - is worth it. This is a good game made by a great company and that deserves to be promoted and people like you are doing that.

My hats off to you!

Brian K.

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Agree on the best games are the ones that are close.

Its no fun for either side just tableing someone... Its just boring! and no challenge if the lists and sides are too missmatched.

Im a tactician first and foremost... So the most fun games for me, are the close ones where you can see where it went wrong..

That if only you'd made a slightly different decision - Or the odd dice roll.. the outcome would have changed one way or the other.

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What, dare I ask, is a "true marmite system"?

 

I'm guessing this is a British colloquialism of which I'm not familiar.

 

Marmite is a food spread sold over here that people tend to either love or hate (the brand's slogan is even "Love it or hate it"). So, a "marmite [something]" is something that people will either love or hate.

 

I can't stand Marmite, but I do like exploding 6s. :)

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Sorry Zak!

 

Just a weird saying from over here.

 

I do find most of our customers love the exploding dice mechanics because it does give everyone a chance and it keeps the game flowing right up until the bitter end. I've never actually had a customer complain about it to be honest.

 

I do agree with pretty much all what you've said too. There are systems out there that are great that don't use exploding dice BUT some are so random they become not that fun anymore. I've found the more random certain companies get, the less I like their system. I find FSA sits very nicely in the middle. The stats and ships are quite grounded but the chaos from exploding 6s always ensures some awesome moments in a game. I've never NOT enjoyed a game of FSA or PF (and I've played probably my fair share more than most folks as it's my full time job to play games, day in, day out).

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on the exploding 6s in all the demo games i have done so far by far the exploding 6s turn out to be the fun point. where someone rolls there 3rd six in a row and the watchers are cheering. Been pretty good so far. and it they destroy my ship on a exploding 6s it may be the Directorate sold my army cheap goods and need to be reminded who is truly in charge. (charge rail guns)

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My biggest "takeaway" of the event was that newer players really only have energy/brainpower to play one game in a day.  

 

I think 600pts was ok, maybe a bit less would be good, but it allows a newly purchased Patrol Fleet "out of the box" to take the field with a few upgrades, that's usually right at 600pts. 

 

For a true "learning game" that takes less than one hour, I recommend just 2 squads per player: 2x cruisers and 3x frigates per side, give or take, at roughly equal MFV.   While this is not a "legal fleet" it showcases the more common concepts of the game: Range bands, 1" TL vs. 0 TL, "Difficult Target" mechanic, enough different types of shooting (beam vs. primary - direct vs. indirect) for people to understand how the game is played.  I've done this successfully if someone "wants to try FSA" and its a reasonable demo.

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While we've generated interest by playing with just cruisers and Frigates we've generated more actual player sales by playing with Pauper Fleets.

The minimal points means you have to focus on what each fleet is really good at which illustrates how different they are it also shows different fleet configurations and cuts down on upgrades and hardpoints which means they seem more "special".

I'm glad your event went well though, I don't want to imply I think there is anything wrong with playing at any particular MFV I just want to confirm you can have fun, fast, and dynamic games at lower MFVs also.

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Agreed.  Maybe 500pt next time.  600pt is three full squads (Tier 1, 2, 3) and room from lots of upgrades.  500pt room for just a few upgrades, more upgrades if you take less-than-full squads.  Maybe better that way, fewer complexities.

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Wow!  Ryjak!  What an article.  (I wish could click Like twice)

 

That is deserving of its own thread, if you haven't made one already.  One thing I think you might want to do, however, is compare 7th edition, where an 'explodes' result on the vehicle table is 7+.  This makes explodes only possible with an AP2 weapon 16% of the time (6 + 1 = 7), and 33% of the time with AP1.  

 

I think AP2 is your best comparison, as it is far more common than AP1.  Please consider revising that 40k comparison and it will do the FSA community a huge service helping 7th Ed 40k players make comparisons.

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Great article Ryjak.

 

Minor addition--you said: "The important thing to remember when looking at these results is to keep in mind how damage works in FSA. Each model has a DR/CR value, as well as Hull Points. If your hit total meets the DR value, you do 1 point of damage; if your hit total meets the CR value, you do 2 points of damage; if your hit total meets 2x CR value, you do 4 points of damage. For Cruisers, which usually have 4HP, that's all the results which matter. It doesn't matter if you land 3x or 30x Criticals, it's still destroyed.  (Yes, each Critical Hit could result in a 1/36 Reactor Explosion, but let's leave the Critical Hit Chart for another article.)"

 

It's also important to note that if you're going after a Dindrenzi cruiser, for example, that there is no difference between 4 hits and 7 hits in the results.  So it's not just on crit multiples where the "extra" hits from exploding d6's get ignored. 

 

Also, anydice.com can handle quite complex situations, including shields.  There's a link in my signature.  Try pasting the following (Megas actually posted this originally) into it's top window and clicking Calculate:

 

output 10d[explode d{0,0,0,1,1,2}] named "10 AD"
output 13d[explode d{0,0,0,1,1,2}]-3d[explode d{0,0,0,1,1,2}] named "13 AD - 3 SHIELD"
output 13d[explode d{0,0,0,1,1,2}]-3d[explode d{0,0,1,1,1,2}] named "13 AD - 3 PROJECTED SHIELD"

 

Examples can get even more complex (Megas and I had a long...discussion about this in the Ongoing Balancing Thread, starting on pg 14).  For example,

http://anydice.com/program/4338

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Good observations.

 

I ran a few demos at a local convention last month, and also had my hands full managing 3-4 players at a time.

 

The biggest difference is that I ran my demos with very small sample fleets at around 200 points. (2 cruisers and 3-4 frigates) It let things play out very quickly, even with instruction and questions.

 

Nice work!

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For me and my motley crew of players, it was how easy the game and rules were to pick up. The exploding dice mechanic we all agree is fantastic.

Watching a space lizard survive a hammering from an RSN BB with just ONE shield dice. Yes the RSN captain couldnt believe it, yes the Solyrian captain couldn't believe it, even my self just spectating but we all agreed it was one of those 'fun moments' that we will always remember and refer to. We have 2 more guys who after just listing to us talk about previous games are very interested in getting involved and have asked if they can come watch to see how it plays.

After playing a certain gothic space and ground themed game, this is so refreshing and the key word...FUN

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