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Grim110

Drones. Too good? (Edit: nerfed too much?)

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The only reason my first land force was not built entirely out of drone launchers and flying saucers was that I saw the french Arbalete tank and instantly fell in love. One could argue the mix of SAW's and Swarm Tactics was not a good thing to focus on, but with the CoA taking this Drone Nerf I'm pretty much ok with how I went. 

 

So I have no idea, has anybody noticed a clear difference between now and then as far as "Drone Swarm" lists go? A french plane rush army list's one drawback is once you run out of SAW's/Carriers your idea is gone, where for a Drone Rush if you lose enough drone pooper outers you're screwed? Losing an Arbalete does sting, but nowhere near as much as my Mauselle dying.

 

Anybody have anything to add on this? French Plane Rush versus CoA Drone Rush post update? Against a mixed force (40% flying) I can imagine the PR/DR being effective. But I'd think the bomber superiority is enough to make a pure tank force tremble too. 

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Ok, here are some game-based findings of mine.

 

On Monday I decided to test out the drone network. I made a fleet that, prior to this update, I would have called the edge of drone spam. It is a fleet that uses the drone network as one of its key strengths. It also used a few models I tend to ignore, such as the Aristotle and plutarch.

 

The fleet consisted of:

1x Diophantus with carrier 9 upgrade (300 points)

1x Aristotle battleship                         (185 points)

3x Cleomedes                                    (240 points)

2x Keplers                                          (190 points)

1x Fresnel                                          (100 points)

3x Plutarch                                         (135 points)

4x Diogenes                                      (100 points)

Total: 1250 points.

Interesting observation; This lists costs 100 points more than the same list would have prior to our update. This was felt very very keenly.

 

I faced a British fleet:

Monarch heavy battleship

Regent battle carrier

Jhasa assault carrier with bombard upgrade

1x Lord Hood

3x Tribal

5x Vereen

5x Swift

4x Attacker

 

The first turn went as expected, a bit of damage here and there. I wiped out the Attackers and softened up a couple of tribals to despatch early next turn. The Aristotle remained undamaged and the Diophantus slooped along happily. One of my Keplers suffered a crit to indirect fire and the Fresnel took 4hp of damage from lucky tribals.

In terms of drones, I had gone for  majority dive bombers whilst my opponent had gone for fighters. Activation count was in his favour, so I could not move my dive bombers too far forward without being jumped on by fighters. No interactions happened in turn one, despite my Keplers being advance deployed.

 

Turn two is usually the time most of my drones disappear. This was true this time too...

Some basic ship interactions happened, the Fresnel died, the Aristotle got into RB 2 of a few targets then missed with all its dice, the Cleomedes went to tangle with the Tribals. Diophantus stood up to firepower without taking a scratch, and responded by unleashing a linked broadside into a regent (1 point of damage) and particle accelerating 3 swifts and two tribals, though only two swifts died. A lucky Hood derelicted a Kepler and damaged the Aristotle a little. The Aristotle was then pierced by the monarch for a hard pounding (3 crew lost), then derelicted by the remaining 3 veerens. My Plutarchs, using the enemy Regent to cover them from the rest of his firepower, blasted big holes in the Regent.

My drones all began to die. Nothing was really in dive bombing range (oh how I miss the 14 inch move! That was a very very heavy nerf!) and my fighters could not intercept his fighters before they jumped on my dive bombers, and those dive bombers were mostly out of range of their target. I found myself thinking, as squadron after squadron of drones was attacked and left with only 1 or two flyers remaining (right next to my Diophantus no less) how this would not be a problem with ordinary SAW, since my carrier could just refresh the damaged squads.  Before, it wouldn't have mattered too much, these useless squadrons could attack, ditch, then be relaunched with no worries. Now they would have to face a drone feedback roll...

My activation order was forced by the need to try and thin out the corvettes before they stole my Aristotle (yeah... didn't work) so I had two major problems with my drones. 1. my drone feedback rolls had been low and 2. My carriers were either activated, dead or wavelurking. By the end of the turn my 29 initial drones had been turned into about 8 on the table and 4 in the scrapyard.

Side note: My Aristotle suffered a total of 2 damage and 3 crew loss before being succesfully boarded by only 3 corvettes. This... was entirely expected, but still hurt the soul. Its vulnerability to boarding is what forced me to activate early in the turn, to try and reduce the imminent threats to it. The Hard Pounding it suffered doomed it, but my opponent rolled his AP such that it would have been likely derelicted regardless or certainly decrewed. 

 

Turn three, with no drones relaunched in the previous turn I was ludicrously out activated, but this doesn't tend to matter too much in turn three.

My Cleomedes and the Tribals went toe to toe and the Tribals, already heavily damaged, came out worst. My Cleomedes immediately died to the swift squadron boarding them to death. My Diogenes failed to do anything useful. My plutarchs proved themselves mighty, blasting the Monarch and taking 4 crew off the regent with a boarding action (he rolled annoyingly good ack ack and my 'elite' marines rolled a lot of 2s and 1s.) Diophantus launched 9 drones, then swept forward and broadsided a Hood and the Regent (crit the Hood, damage the regent) and particle accelerated the monarch and the presumptious vereens and swifts... a swift survived, as did the Monarch. Meanwhile my Plutarchs got shunted into by a regent and survived with great damage.

In drone news, the relaunched drones were swiftly dispatched by enemy fighters that I had been refreshed by enemy carriers. More drone feedback rolls, more failures. Sky became drone free. I did manage a dive bomber attack this turn, which caused a point of damage to the Monarch.

 

Turn four (Turn Four! It is exceedingly rare that a fleet order battle goes past turn 3. Some end in turn 2!)

A kepler died to devestating hoodage. It exploded. It killed the Diogenes. Heap big sadness. My Plutarchs enjoyed a medic, to try and board the Regent again, but then two died against its hull (damn lucky rolling!). Diophantus, having suffered a mere point of damage from facing down a Jhasa and Regent (two big devastating guns!) let loose another torrent of broadsides, which failed to kill the Regent or the Hood. It did kill the Monarch with a ram and a PA blast. Shortly afterwards it was boarded. My ack-ack rolls were terrible and my 9 crew clearly forgot how to use their laser guns, where as the 10 remaining regular crew from the Jhasa just waltzed on board and wiped them all out. Very lucky.

End of the game, I has a single plutarch remaining.

 

So, from this one limited game (where my drone feedback rolls were most of the time average, but low at first) I am beginning to feel like drones are gettin closer to v1.1... i.e. useless.

Drone feedback meant my carriers did not have the opportunity to relaunch drones. It meant my damaged squadrons (i.e. 1 or 2 dive bombers) were both useless and irredeemable. The speed nerf meant that I had to be reactive rather than proactive with my drone movements, resulting in them being played very similarly to other SAW (i.e. slow moving up with the fleet) but without the advantages that carrier support gives to other SAW. Dive bombers in general are easy to predict and outmaneuver, but they work well when carrier-supported since wiping them out is very difficult when they keep being refreshed. We don't have the speed to play aggressively anymore, and we cannot play defensively with them because our mechanics do not allow it.

So I thought about changing tactics, using all fighters to clear the skies and then relaunch dive bombers. This might work... in a 5 turn game, and presuming drone feedback was not unlucky.

turn 1, fly forward. Turn 2 fly forward and be attacked (note, not ourselves attack. Enemy fighters outmaneuver us too much for that to really happen). Turn 3, remaining drones attack and perhaps wipe a few damaged enemy squadrons from the air. Probably wiped out in turn. Turn 4, relaunch surviving drones as dive bombers. Turn 5, strike.

This could be sped up by one turn, probably. Or delayed/countered by our carriers being attacks.

I don't have a good feeling about drones at the moment. Far from feeling like a swarm of disposables sent to smash the enemy, it felt like a very very limited supply to try and defend the fleet.

 

This fleet, which was built with the network as one of its key strengths, felt like it had no punch. Compared to our last ORBAT I was playing with 100 fewer points, which is very big! That is a Thales squad or a second Fresnel! I really felt the lack here.

Diophantus is now incredible tough. It was already tough, now it is a colossus bestriding the battle and caring not for the puny bullets of the enemy. It is a dreadnought in both cost and defence. What it is not is a dreadnought in firepower. I thought this would be made up for by the drones (it certainly would have been before) but this just did not happen.

This was a drone heavy fleet... I am not sure how a lower drone count fleet will fare in terms of air power...

 

Conclusions? Too early to say for sure, but I don't feel confident. Individually: the increased cost weakens the fleet, the drone speed nerf lowers their power and flexibility and the drone feedback kills the swarm feel and massively damages the recycling. The whole may not be greater than the sum of its parts, but this was easily the most catastrophic defeat I have suffered using the covenant I can remember, and it did not have any massive game-changing luck swings.

 

Next game, I will be playing a game without a dreadnought. See if the new energy aristotle+kepler is as good as it looks. And also see how the network fares with only one carrier.

 

 

EDIT:

Having reread this, it sounds very whiney and moany and negative.

So I just want to add this. Our mediums are spectacular, our smalls are good (Hell, the plutarch really impressed me in this game and I have never been impressed by them before!) and our fleet is packed with fun tricks and tactics that other fleets cannot dream of. We are surprisingly tough, our firepower is limited but tends to be precisely enough for its job and playing covenant is just very fun!

No-one would say that drones didn't need to change, no-one would say the Diophantus did not need an increase in points, no-one would say the Keplers did not need a points increase. All of the changes had a reason (even if some may turn out a little overzealous) and the fleet I played was purposefully reliant on a mechanism that has been severely nerfed, so the result should not be that surprising. I made a few major mistakes and my drones were very clearly mishandled. I have not yet reached a true conclusion about the changes, the above is the initial impression after lots of thinking about it and only 1 game.

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Well, looks like we have a start to the often demanded 'prove it with battle reports'. I know it's just one report, but it isn't disproving my opinion that the nerfs went too far. I won't be able to get a report out myself for a couple of weeks, since I'm currently using my DW time to try and push it on university freshers. Once I do, I can't imagine my conclusions will be much different.

 

the Aristotle got into RB 2 of a few targets then missed with all its dice

 

Every damn time, my Aristotle does the same thing- fail with the target painter, fail with all the shooting, fail at swift manoeuvre test, fail to survive the rest of the turn.

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Thanks for the battle report, Thamoz- consider posting them on the Battle reports subforum, it does not get enough love!

 

It feels like drones are less of a "Charge forward" and more of a "Keep pace with the fleet" kind of unit now. I also wonder whether it is worth it to take drones as Combat Patrol a bit more often, now?

 

I just painted my Pericles, so I'm sad to hear that it apparently is not really worth the points right now (right there with the illustrious, another beautiful mini that I probably won't use soon...). Has anyone got recent experience using the Callimachus? Most lists I see omit it, for some reason. Seems like a cool bag of tricks, too.

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I think that a list could be built with a Callimachus and nothing but mediums and smalls and just board everything turn 1 for a win, but that just enters the same problem as the drones.

 

It wouldn't be fun, and it would play different from how everything else plays.  The problem that I've noticed is that CoA doesn't play like other factions, and while I enjoy that it does make them harder to balance.  I will agree with most parties that the drones needed a little toning back some how, even if it was the dio points increase and decreased movement or something, But I maintained it wasn't unbeatable just that people who played against it just tried doing what they do for every other opponent, which you can't do for CoA.  Against a drone spam you just have to move forward as fast as possible and board because the long the game goes on the more drones we would be and the better they would be for their points.

 

Now if we all start doing a Callimachus teleport and board list for the wins it doesn't solve the problem of that isn't how most people want to boat or play against boats and still leaves CoA in a weird position. If you don't build a list around it I would think it would just be a weird mess of a list and would be hard to play well.

 

Edit

 

I don't think we are in a terrible position, we def aren't in an auto win, or even an easy win, and I fully believe most if not all battles will be up hill for us.  I tried a list against my friend who plays EotBS and I did the double Aristotle w Kepler build.  Even against his larges I just did 10 dice, and 9 dice blasts against his ships opposed to straight 18 dice and just settled for plinking him down.

Sadly he had to leave before we could figure out who won and before things got interesting. 

 

The way I set up my ships was all energy and I just placed everything against my back line in a refused flank positon and went full speed from my left side of  the board to the right side of the board with the intention of just circling around the edges of the board trying to keep the game in rb 3/4 for as long as possible.

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See i always veiw the teleport boarding list not to be an auto win, but perhaps an auto loose....COA are not the best boarders and what is sometimes forgotton is that you activate the portal and place the recieving end close to where you want to go.....but enemy ships can use said portal to come through if there close enough before you can send something through yourself....plus if the orb is destroyed the gimick is lost and your fighting large massives with some mediums....

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I've never lost a game directly because of the TDO (at least, not since 2.0 came out), but it's generally 50/50 on the teleported element causing significant damage before dying.

 

To keep us on topic, I am going to reiterate, however, that I think the drone nerfs are a bit too far, from what I've read. I'll add a stronger opinion once I get a chance to try them out.

 

Here's some ideas for what I'd like to see drones do:

  • Scrap Drone Feedback in its current form. Low-dice RNG abilities are just flat-out bad. This is the one thing on this list I really want to see.
  • Drones become DR1, as per jupjupy's alternate CoA orbat, and can activate on the turn they launch (Glorified rockets, much?)
  • Give the Epicurus back its launch turret in some form- 8" launch, 15/15/-/- rocket attack if it didn't launch, something like that- it really is a defining feature of the model.
  • Make Drone Feedback remove half the squadron's destroyed strength, rounding up, but not affect ditching drones- more reliable, more rewarding for smart play.

This is by no means a "do all these things at once" list (which is what I think the beta testers took our drone nerf suggestions to be), but a list of ideas to consider.

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Following my post in the other thread. I have a drone related idea of how to potentially use them...

Assuming the fleet includes an 'Energistotle' with attached Keplar and a Diophantus (which is likely what I'll be trying next!) that gives you...

10 from LAS + 5 from Keplar + 9 from the Dio.

I think I'll be attempting to split them up as follows (F for fighters, R for recon, B for bombers)...

(3F, 3F, 3F, 1R) LAS, (5B) Keplar, (3F, 3F, 3F) from the Dio.

Giving me 1R, 5B and 6x 3F.

Hopefully the bombers will be enough of a threat to draw in some enemy SAS to deal with them, with 2 groups of fighters as escort any SAS unit that attempts to intercept the bombers could face two lots of 8AD from the fighters. That should be enough to take out 5 SAS completely (and remove the option of replenishing them)

The other 4 groups of fighters will advance with the fleet and be used to intercept enemy bombers as needed. Ranging a little ahead, hopefully even 1 group could take out 2 bombers from a group of 5, giving them the choice of bombing with 3 (and potentially loosing 1 or 2 to AA and having a sub-par attack run, and likely taken out by ship interception afterwards) or retreating to the carrier (hopefully delaying them long enough for my ships to kill what is needed)

Also throw some Plutarchs through a portal and attempt to damage an enemy carrier in an attemp to reduce carrier points.

If all goes to plan, then the drones could feasibly hold off enemy SAS! Any left in the scrap heap can be launched as 3F or 5B as needed.

Additionally, those extra groups can come in handy for gaming activation.

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As a Chinese and Blazing Squad player, I prefer Swarm Tactics on small fighter squadrons of 3, which I treat as disposable. Under the new feedback rules this isn't as effective, but any drones you do relaunch would be more than I'd get :P

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They do the job of taking out (more often than you'do think they should) incoming bombers, and as I usually take the Chui medium carriers in an aggressive role, I rarely have many carrier points available to restock them. And, wings of 3 dive bombers are quite capable of delivering the coup de grace on damaged mediums, or even irritatingly placed smalls...

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Alright, finally played a game with the new drone rules. Sadly I don't have much of a report to give. Maybe the bombers struggled to get range, but I didn't get much chance to experiment with the other new rules. Both my carriers failed to make a launch action all game- the Kepler spent most of it passing swift manoeuvre rolls to hide from the approaching wall of Russian mortars, while my Epicurus suffered a Chaos and Disarray crit in the first turn and failed to repair it for four end phases, including all my Pass the Tools rolls.I did anomalously well on my Drone Feedback rolls, even if I didn't manage to benefit from them. I do still dislike them, as it can cause serious imbalance if you pass or fail all of them, without any real control over them.

 

On the plus side, my newly painted Cleomedes took on an entire flank, killed everything and then managed to cause 4 HP and 1 AP of damage to the Russian fleet carrier, through a fusion leak critical caused by 8AD of torps.

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I tried using the multiple units of 3 fighter drones and it worked pretty well!

Apart from the obvious activation bonus, putting 8AD into an SAS unit was enough to weaken them and either drive them away or make them easy prey for a second set of 8AD.

Deployed in a skirmish screen ahead of my fleet they were able to deter bombers and fliers and managed to take out the majority of the enemy SAS.

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Did another battle last night. 1000 point game. 

  Aristotle (energy) With Kepler

  Pericles

  Hippasus (energy)

  Fresnel x2

  Diogenes x4

  Callimachus beta

 

Lost pretty badly, got a few rules wrong but nothing that actually affected the game.  The Hippasus was captured turn 2 with barely a whimper. the battle orb can be scary until it takes any damage.  At one point it had 6 damage on it, and I rolled a 5 for the AD to shoot.  Forgot to check if those are redoubtable though so no AD on that attack. As to the drones, they were basically doing nothing. Setup with mostly 3's with 1 5 and 1 spotter. Round 1 No attacks. Round 2 fighters engaged, 5 died, 3 lost permanently, no relaunches. Round 3 more tiny's died in various attacks, 11 died, 6 permanently, 1 relaunch of 5.  Round 4 lost 12, 7 permanently, relaunched 5. Game end.  Total lost drones was 15 out of 24 with one launched squad of 5 and a few signletons floating around.  The enemy had lost 1 group of 3 permanently. The rest were rearmed and reinforced without too much difficulty. He had 16 drones in a 5, 3, 3, 3, 1, 1 config.

 

  The drones did not feel swarmy or effective.  The felt like target drones for the enemy to shoot at. They did some damage, taking out a small and doing a crit to a medium. That was about it. The 3 squad size was not much of a help, would not do again as they were unable to wipe out the enemy squads completely. Having to loose 2 SAS to relaunch 1 SAS is a pain. If you have slightly bad luck, you may need to loose 3 of them first. 

 

  I would almost rather see them switch to cruise missiles rather then be flyers.  switch them back to what they were but remove the ack ack from bombers.  That would make them seem more like missiles that can be intercepted and launched in large numbers but can be freely engaged by enemy fighters without fear of  retaliatory ack ack.  Maybe limit the availability of fighters to 1 SAS  at a time or to the capacity 9 carriers? 

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I too had a battle yesterday.

 

1500 points vs KoB/Aussies

 

My fleet consisted of:

Energistic Aristotle + Kepler

Pericles fleet carrier

3 Zeno

2 Fresnel

3 Plato

1 Hyperbius

Lots of Thales and some Diogenes

Total of 24 drones on the table, not unreasonable for a 1500 point fleet. These were arranged: 1 group of 5 dive bombers, 1 group of 5 fighters, 2 group of 4 fighters and 2 groups of 3 fighters. This split gave me a lot of activations initially.

The fleet is also very medium heavy, since my belief that the true strength of the covenant is in its mediums seems even more the case after the update.

 

So the game when fairly according to plan. Turn 1 saw some long range energy sniping do some damage here and there, an adventuresome Lord Hood came close and died to weapons that could not reach across the board. My number of drones gave me a slight edge in activations, which allowed me to activate corvettes late in the turn, ready for a boarding strike turn 2. Zenos were advance deployed and moved up to particle accelerate a few unlucky smalls and did some broadside damage late in the turn too. Enemy action (Tribals!!!) caused a magazine explosion with rb4 torps against my Pericles, dealing 5 damage to the poor ship. Some attackers managed to ambush one of my corvette squads, reducing it to two models. The Aristotle also suffered a point of battle damage... but I can't remember what did it. Possibly the Hood. My Kepler also got teleported by something, suffering 3 points of damage and sending it far from the Aristotle.

Turn 2 saw me win initiative and launch the corvette boarding torpedoes. They sped forward, blasted a Ruler with gunnery and then boarded a Regent battle carrier/commodore vessel. This was probably the key activation of the game, since following the loss of the commodore most of the enemy fleet decided to break. His Tribals still did well though, sinking the Pericles via its second magazine explosion, which also took out the Kepler. Some more of my Thales died over the turn and a little damage was added here and there too. Without the ability to link or board, his firepower was insufficient to deal with tough covenant units. My Zenos also strode up to a Cerberus pocket battleship and derelicted it whilst shooting more chunks out of nearby vessels. I do love Zenos! :D My Aristotle did some more shooting, particle accelerating a squadron of enemy corvettes away and killing a damaged Tribal. Its turrets put a crit on an enemy Ruler. Other incidental stuff happened as well, such as my Dive bomber drones getting shot down and my fighter drones destroying a Merlin squadron that had strayed practically into my deployment zone. The game ended at the end of turn two. The break tests had really screwed the game for my opponent.

 

My thoughts:

The Pericles is a DR 5 CR 8 ship. This is.... this is poor. Add to that its high points cost. Then add a strategic value of 100!!!!!!!! Poor defence and 100 strategic value (another thing that was done to nerf drones is the increasing of strategic value on almost all our carrier models...) 270 points when dead. Of course, mine was unlucky to suffer two explosion crits, and this before I got any use out of its relaunching capability, which it clearly pays a premium for in a few ways...

 

The Energy Aristotle is good, even if I didn't use its 18 dice kepler-powered attack. It is good because it does not have to contend with its major weakness. Boarding. It can happily sit at extreme range, using its impressive away of secondary weapons to help take care of anything that comes to close, whilst doing the Energy Artillery Two-step (patent pending). This means that an enemy has to deal with its impressive defences against shooting, and it will be much more difficult to land a successful boarding assault, since it will take longer to get there (giving the fleet (and Aristotle) more chance to deal with the threat). Colour me impressed but hesitant... I am still not sure if two Fresnels are a better use of the point or if, being a large, it does not have to compete with them.

 

Drones... I never got a relaunch because my carriers died very very quickly. My fighter drones were too slow to go after the Merlins until they right up into my face (I baited them into that using the Hyperbius as a target) where other fighters could have attacked in turn one. My Dive bomber drones performed like other SAW dive bombers, but without the ability to be kept in a carrier bubble of protection they will never have the resilience to land a hit.... well, maybe not never, but they will find it hard. I kept rolling my feedback rolls even after the carriers had died, to see what I would have had. I rolled well for the most part (sods law!) and just over half of the drones that died would have come back, but most of the drones that dies did so thanks to my own attack runs. Also, several drones died permanently from carrier-deaths. In a strange quirk of the game, only 2 died permanently from the death of the Pericles, since it only suffered two critical hits in the game. Overall, my opinion of the new network remains unchanged. I still hate hate hate the way drone feedback is on a dice roll. Inelegant and unrewarding for good/bad tactical play.

 

Zenos are awesome. Thank you for the extra movement on them. Please don't hit them with a nerf bat. Please.

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Could not play too much lately, but decided to give the CoA and drones another go yesterday. Game was 1250 points naval vs. the EoBS.

CoA: Diophantus © + 9 Drones, Daedalus, 3 Cleomedes, 1 Kepler, 1 Kepler, 4 Diogenes, 4 Diogenes, 5 Thales, 3 Thales (Commodores discretion -> all mediums and 50%)

EoBS: Kaiju, Tenkei, Ika + 4 Zarigani, 3 Nakatsu, 1 Heavy Bomber, 4 Heavy Destroyers, 5 Corvettes, 4 Frigates (Commodore and 50%)

 

Turn 1:

Advance all drones close to the max (all drones as fighters/torpedo bombers), advance the rest of the fleet rather cautiously. The CoA do some stray damage, sink an Uwatsu and one Nakatsu and lose one Diogenes.

 

Turn 2: Drones activate early, sink some Zarigani, and take out a couple of enemy SAWs, slightly less then half drones respawn, the Keplers relaunch 5 Torpedobombers + 5 Fighters. The Diophantus is still wavelurking to destroy enemy subs with its PA. 3 Thales are unable to kill a single Fujin at point blank range with full guns and boarding. The 3 Fujins retaliate and sink a total of 4 Thales from two squadrons leaving my Diophantus very vulnerable to the incoming heavy destroyers and the closing Ika squadron. Other emergency actions with 4 Diogenes some drones and a single Kepler are semi succesfull and I can take out one heavy destroyer reducing the imminent threat for my commodore. Nevertheless the EoBS player brings his fleet in a very good position and I know I have only one turn left before I'll very likely loose my Commodore. Both sides deal a good bit of damage here and there I can take out a couple of smalls and a second Nakatsu while damaging the heavy bomber.

 

Turn 3: I can take out both remaining Zariganis before they can attack my Commodore, nevertheless the Ika still does a crit (3 damage), this is followed by 2 damage from the Kaiju, and some more from the Tenkei and the heavy destroyers. I loose two drones to crits in the process. Nevertheless my fleet brings down all enemy smalls except one heavy destroyer. The last Nakatsu falls to some Diogenes broadside fire (it was on its last HP) and 2 wings of drone fighters  + the Daedalus finally take out the Suzaku heavy bomber winning me the game. The Keplers were still swimming safely along both flanks doing some stray damage points here and there and throwing out more drones (9 more drones relaunched turn 3).

 

CV to the CoA with 740-450 points. Had there been a turn four my fleet would have been in a very bad shape. Both sides had a lot of bad and unusual lots of unexpected very high rolls, which led to my Commodore being hopelessly isolated for turn 3 or on the other hand saved me the game during the very last activations. 2x5 drone fighters had failed miserably against the EoBS heavy bomber in turn 2 and early turn 3 and so it was still at five HP. Then a Kepler scored a very lucky crit, some more drone fighters did another damage and the Daedalus shot it down with the very last dice I had available that turn.

 

Regarding drones this game:

I know drones don't work as they did in early 2.0, but they had to change. I started this game with 29 drones and was able to relaunch 19 drones in useful positions during the 3 turn game. I did not have issues with their speed, intercepting enemy SAS still works fine (just advance some Fighter drones towards the center and you cover a 32" circle against enemy SAS), but I agree speed  makes a (big/important) difference compared to early 2.0. Drones overall won air superiority, took out a couple of smalls (4?), scored a tactically important crit on the Tenkei and one damage against the Heavy bomber. They did not win the game on themselves and the fighters actually had a horrible day regarding their damage output. Nevertheless they brought tactically important and threatening activations and made some movement decisions very hard for my opponent. Now I won't say everything is perfect regarding drones, the Carriers, the CoA or DW as a whole game, but

 

a: no TT game will ever be perfect and imho we are at a generally very solid level regarding internal and cross faction balance.

b: this is not the end. Playtesting is an ongoing process and we can and will still adjust and tweak things for an even better gaming experience.

c: keep gaming and giving good feedback as you are doing in here :).

 

Happy droning

 

R

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That's a pretty drone heavy list there. Drone Launcher (19) overall. Also, regardless of how well or poorly the drones perform, I oppose the random nature of drone feedback rolls. As I've said before, those low-dice count special abilities were terrible in 1.1 with the Fresnels, TDO teleporting large models and the Arronax's Sonic Generator- and they're a bad idea to include now.

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That's a pretty drone heavy list there. Drone Launcher (19) overall. Also, regardless of how well or poorly the drones perform, I oppose the random nature of drone feedback rolls. As I've said before, those low-dice count special abilities were terrible in 1.1 with the Fresnels, TDO teleporting large models and the Arronax's Sonic Generator- and they're a bad idea to include now.

maybe the feedback rule should have been "Drones further than x" away from a Drone Relay..." instead of as a general rule

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Honestly. as long as it's a dice roll, I dislike it. Maybe it could just be always half the squadron's starting strength when a squadron is lost- Removing first from the scrapyard, then the table if the CoA player has been sneaky with their re-launching). I also feel that there should be some tactical way of avoiding the loss of drones- e.g. No loss when ditching. But primarily, I very much dislike the dice roll.

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Getting 2/3 of your drones back to relaunch is way above average. That would make a big difference. I know what Seb means though about it being random. Means you can play the best game ever and your plan still may not work

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@Sebenko: I understand your thinking and I partially agree (I certainly do about the 1.1 Fresnels... :)). However the feedback rule is not that "low dice" or that "random" as it may seem. There are so many other dice rolls with really low dice and high importance (repair, break test, initiative, AA, boarding) that drone feedback randomness to me seems no big issue. Just going through a couple of common numbers and rounding generously we get the following:

 

For 10 feedback rolls, 90% of the times you will get 3-7 drones back.

For 15 feedback rolls, 90% of the times you will get 5-10 drones back.

For 20 feedback rolls, 90% of the times you will get 7-13 drones back.

For 25 feedback rolls, 90% of the times you will get 10-15 drones back.

 

Now it does make a big difference for lower numbers, if for example you can only do 5 drones early turn 2 it makes a huge difference if you get 1 or 4 drones back (if you get four you can activate a Carrier as a next step and relaunch, if you only get one you will have to hold back your Carrier and possibly sit out enemy fire, or you will have to activate without relaunching). What I had to learn during testing is a way how to deal with this problem. It may well be a personal opinion, but compared to the somewhat lame early 2.0 drone swarms to me solving that tactical "problem" leads to a more rewarding gaming experience. My humble suggestions:

 

- Use drones very aggressively (to make sure you "ditch" 10 or better 15 drones turn 2).

- Even provoking enemy SAS to shoot down your drones can bring you an advantage (the opponent can't activate deadlier things, he does not score any points by shooting your drones, you can drop some enemy SAS and you can increase the stock of drones for new drone launches).

- Try to "ditch" every single last drone some time during turn two.... and again turn three...

- the respawn is a "bonus". Every standard SAW would simply be dead (or flying in a spot where it can and will be shot down), half of your drones return.

- The more feedback rolls you make, the more drones you get back (and the feedback becomes more "reliable")

- Try to do consecutive dronestrikes (activate carriers late, place them close enough but behind some kind of "cover").

 

Now fleets with low Carrier count can't gain the feedback "reliability" as well as a drone heavy fleets. But they profit from the local support drones a lot. EG: 1 single Epicurus Carrier in a 1250 point fleet. Move in aggressively and ditch 10-15 drones turn 2. And you can be pretty sure to relaunch a squadron the same turn and very likely again for turn 3. I remember a testgame where I had only 5 of 22 drones returning and the drones/carriers still were well worth their "points".

 

I do have some "small concerns" for certain units/tactics, I have some personal preferences and I'll keep a very close eye on this thread to learn how you guys (the CoA experts) experience the current ORBAT. Ask the designers, if I think something should/could be changed, I can be pretty annoying ;), but usually they are one or two steps ahead regarding those things anyways...

 

R

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I do have some "small concerns" for certain units/tactics, I have some personal preferences and I'll keep a very close eye on this thread to learn how you guys (the CoA experts) experience the current ORBAT. Ask the designers, if I think something should/could be changed, I can be pretty annoying ;), but usually they are one or two steps ahead regarding those things anyways...

 

R

 

 

Close.  If someone keeps going on about stuff that you mainly agree with as they are right, then they are persistent.

Annoying is when you disagree with them, and they  will not shut up! :P

 

For everyone, do keep playing games and writing them up- we look at battle reports!

 

 

James

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<drone talk>

 

For me, it is a 'low-dice ability', as I generally play carrier light lists, and thus will be making fewer feedback rolls.

 

The issue here is that a fleet with fewer carriers makes fewer drone feedback rolls, so a slight difference in rolls makes a big difference to how effective those carriers will be. Which brings us back to the issue we were trying to solve with the drone nerfs- it rewards drone heavy lists, now because law of averages coming into effect.

 

Relatively, the carrier light list does benefit from the LAS more than a carrier heavy one, but a carrier heavy list is going to benefit from early aerial superiority and more drone relaunches on average, so I still think it favours drone spam in this regard. Additionally, with fewer carriers you'll have a harder time re-launching any drones lost- if you have one Epicurus, you'll be lucky to relaunch most of your drones anyway. Meanwhile, a list with an Epicurus and a full Kepler squadron can relaunch three full squadrons every turn, ensuring the drone feedback survivors are operating at maximum efficiency.

 

I don't consider the drone respawn a 'bonus', as it's the only way the CoA have to replenish SAS- other nations can reinforce their SAS with smart play with carriers. Now the CoA rely on luck for it.

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