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Are Interceptors worth the cost

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I was looking into the possibility of writing an "air supremacy" list at 4000 points, using a ground attack and and an interceptor aerial helix, when I started thinking about the cost / benefit of different units. As an Aquan player, I'm a huge fan of the Ground Attack helix, and our Interceptor Heavy Gunship is very nice for its cost - But I can't really see a good enough case for bringing in the Interceptor Squadron. The Aquan Interceptor squadron is currently 360 points and carries the same firepower and range as the Interceptor heavy Gunship AND the Aquan Heavy Support Tank (230 & 280 points respectively)

 

Now I get that the what we are pretty much paying for with the interceptors is the ability to get behind enemy fliers and use the dogfight rule. So I guess really, Interceptors can only be said to be of use in games where the enemy fields fliers of their own. Otherwise they tend to be very over priced. 

 

What are peoples thoughts and experiences of this? would you take Interceptors on a regular basis? Are fliers becoming a bigger feature in the Planetfall Meta Game?

 

Since most of my experience is with Zeph, who doesn't field fliers out of his own preference, I might have a skewed opinion on this, and with another regular opponent fielding the Rethoza flying leviathan, maybe I should reconsider?

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My thoughts are similar to yours the interceptors feel like 1 trick ponies.

While I love that we have more options I am starting to not see the benefits of the 2 helix approach to the aerial helix. I think they would of been better having a single helix of the 2 combined without the heavy interceptors (might be because I gate the Terran heavy) and have the interceptor squardrons as optional units. That way you get more units that can furfill their potential and the inceptors can provide the air supremcy if required.

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I agree that it can be a weakness of the helix system in that you can end up taking elements which are designed to be a hard counter to others; eg the interceptors, which in random matches prove to be too risky to take because of the chance that your opponent just won't take any air units.

I think it identifies a flaw in the helix system when its applied to very specialist counters. It works fantastically if you know what your opponent will take, but when you don't it introduces a question of preference; and preference is going to be weighted toward general use.

Interceptors might gain more use if:

a) As you say they become an optional component to other helix formations; thus allowing you to take interceptors, but at the same time not have to dedicate a whole helix to them.

B) As the game gains in helix diversity and more air helix's become present, even fitting into other slots on the helix map. This is possible, but could run the risk that the game ends up being an "air or ground" choice.

c) If the helix balance system is adjusted to allow certain types of helix to ignore the helix limit or if a neutral helix is added to the force chart that allows you to double up on a helix slot without removing the other on the opposite side.

d) If interceptors gained increased stat changes to make them more effective against ground targets. This is the simplest way to resolve the issue; although it runs the risk that the interceptors could become too good as a result as well.

For me there's a few factors in the helix design to consider.

1) You know your opponent will at least have a minimum core; which guarantees ground units and a range from light to heavy. This makes it safe to take counters to such because you know they will at least see some effective use. You can take a heavy support or recon because you know that those force elements will see use. You can also take a ground attack helix because you know ground units are going to out number air in most cases.

2) The helix's that work best will be those that serve the function against what is listed above; and also those helix that combine elements to allow for duel functionality (at the very least).

To my mind it almost introduces the idea of wanting to have core and support helix design into the game.

A Regular helix is any one of the currently defined helix slots. A generalist body of troops that has an overall focus, but which is also capable of generalist use.

A Support helix that attaches to a regular helix. The support having a more strict focus and requires the relevant regular helix to attach to, but which doesn't have the same helix limitations. This is the perfect slot to fit something like the interceptors into. Providing niche-support and counters without impacting the general core of the army itself.

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I think I get what you mean. In my head an option would be that each of the surrounding helices has 2 very different support "mini" helix and you attach them to which ever helix they attach too and its these that remove an opposite support mini helix. I.e if you took a Aerial with both support helixs you could not take attach any support helix to your recon. You could take 1 support for both aerial and recon or you could double up on aerial at the expense of any recon at all.

For example an Terran Aerial Helix Helix is the GA as is. Its support elements are Interceptors 0-2 Rindr interceptor squads the other could be Air Assault I.e. 0-2 "mini" Dellingers with embarked Hirdmen

But this ia pie in the sky ideas and will continue to wish for the Rindrs to appear without the horrid sky pancake buddy.

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Aye although I don't know if this is solving the problem or just moving it as its not just helix but unit costs in points we have to consider. Even with a helix adjustment we have to question if the units themselves can be made cheaper in points so that they are still viable on the table but come with a cost that allows them to be taken

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Yeah, my issue isn't with the helix system, its in the actual unit. At 360 points for aquan interceptors and no option to take a reduced strength squad, I simply have more cost effective options. Maybe a slight reduction in cost, since a 10 pt reduction in cost per interceptor gives a unit reduction down to 320 points. Seems a bit more acceptable. Or a 1AD increase in firepower each. Something to give me a reason to take them. 

I think sometimes the problem with the helix system is I'm tempted to take two of the same helix with ONLY the command unit i.e 2 heavy support tanks and no Tank Destroyers.

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Thinking on it further I wonder if the problem is more the duel and yet separate nature of air and ground combat. You can easily take a block of units which are anti-air which would tear apart an opponent that brings majority air but which is almost useless against a majority ground force.

Maybe the key is to split ground and air even more. A core ground and core air helix approach with points and game limits set with the pre-game phase being players agreeing to what combination of helix's to bring. Eg you'd agree to an air to air match and only bring air helix; or agree to both or ground to ground.

Players could still weight their force to one or the other, but would still have to bring a core of each at the very least in a combined game. It would give air its own slot and mean that players could balance out armies to deal with both without running the risk of one not appearing (most likely air not appearing at this stage).

It's a thought for the future as it would require more air models and a core air helix approach.

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I can definitely see where you are coming from, but I'm not sure I completely agree.

Sure, point values and specific models can always be discussed back and forth, with all kinds of factors weighted in, but I'm a bit vary about introducing either force selection limitations on what you can bring, or split the orbats into different 'Theatres' like Dystopian Wars (I'm also not a fan of introducing further complexities to the force selection, I get enough glazed over eyes trying to explain the Helix system as it stands today...).

 

To me, if we want to make all things worth their points in all possible scenarios, we need to make sure that everything is always the same, streamlining the game even further, and I think that is the wrong way to go. A AA squadron will always have to pay a premium for abilities that might or might not be utilized (depending on if you opponent brought flyers or not).

Personally, I have no problem with that. I'd rather pay a tax for a nice toolkit unit that might not get used fully, and have tactics prepared for using them as good as possible in not ideal situations.

 

Will any Interceptor squadrons I bring always make their point back in kills? No.

Can they be used for something other than their designated purpose? Definitively. For me, that is part of the fun, trying to come up with ways of getting the most out of units.

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Don't really fear either aerial with my Dindrenzi, they have a functional amount of AA; I like double GA with them though. My Aquans, can handle Aerial Helixes easily with what I bring (double Heavy). I'm still planning on getting Interceptors for them. A flying crystal is just too tempting, a flying crystal that hits on 3's is a must have. Over all though I think everyone can bring a fair amount of anti air for smaller games, it's not till the points get big that the interceptors are a must take. Well atleast for now, WAY too many races left to release to call it honestly.

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As a Terran I too don't see reason to bring Interceptor helix. Literally all of my purchased helices have anit air (Ull from Core, Ullr from Heavy, Ullr + Commandbarge from Field Support) which also isn't too shaby against ground targtes so I don't even pay for nothing if my opponent dosen't bring Aerial units :) .

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Interestingly enough I've used my Terran Int Helix a few times and the Rindr normally get bottled off quickly but the big boy generally does well. I find it's all about activation order and whether the enemy perceives it as a threat.

 

The biggest thing to remember is Interceptors don't just target air units. They have no penalty for going after ground units and generally get a back/side shot off quite easily. So they can be useful for that. It's obviously not Ground Attack power level but then the Dellingr is OP anyway, for now.

 

In regards to building lists I haven't really come across any problems just yet but I can see that "specialising" in a Helix such as Ground Attack can cause some problems but then I always focus on balanced lists as now we have a lot of units out, you don't know what you'll be facing so AA is always a must - plus you can hit most air targets with normal weapons anyway. You don't even need AA. It's not like DZC where AA is VITAL as it's pretty much the only thing that can hit flyers. We have a bit more flexibility and redundancy in units. It's not simply "I've killed your AA, game over man".

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AA would be more important if they removed placed shots. Also if air was split into high or low levels as some air units work more like helicopters than jets. So making some elevated and others as they are now would make it a bit more interesting.

High level ones could get hard target 2 and 3 then allowing them better odds against tank cannons and such while low level ones could use some cover.

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@Core

 

The split level idea is something that I know Neil is very keen on introducing but I'm not sure if Derek wanted the extra level of complexity. I'd be behind that idea though but again, could add a bit too much to the game which is based on it's speed. That's up to Derek and Neil to sort ;)

 

Placed Shots have undergone a slight change, they haven't gone (Because then I feel certain units would be too difficult to kill with low AD pools, that's what Placed is there for basically) but they are more interesting in the Beta tests.

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Am I the only one to think that the Dindrenzi Erinyes Interceptors are really really bad at doing their job? Sure, they are the cheapest interceptor squadron of all 6 factions but to get what? A useful range of 10", only 15 dices with no MAR (other than Interceptor of course), etc... The only positive point is their movement but to do what? Too bad because the mini is awesome! :)

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Just a thought but perhaps the simplest solution at least to the Helix limit is to spit the air component and add a new side to the core helix.

At present we've got:

Air

Heavy

Field Support

Leviathan

Recon

Assault

Of which only one is an air component whilst thus far all the rest are ground (or ground+hover). Granted there are some that have a little air support within their helixs, but in general there is only 1 of 6 options and thus one of 7 helix (remember the core also counts) which can be air. At most 2 if a player doubles up and doesn't take a recon helix.

Thus when it comes to cost benefit an interceptor unit just doesn't stand a chance against ground attack. A player is nearly always going to pick an air helix that boosts ground attack over anything else because they know for certain that it will be effective. Interceptors are fighting a losing battle as the player could run the risk that their best air to air ends up with little to do because their opponent didn't bring any.

The best way I can see to solving it is to add more segments to the core helix to allow air to be:

Air ground attack

Air to air

Doubling the potential for air components without the player having to sacrifice a whole helix.

My gut feeling is that Spartan wants Planetfall to be more tightly held together than Dystopian Wars (which can do 3 theatres of war alone or combined) and thus are focusing on the ground component. That's fine, but if you're bringing in air I think its got to have more than 1 of 7 slots to have a chance to really feature.

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As a Terran player the interceptors aren't required because of all the specialist AA tanks you can grab.

If you upgrade the command helix with the AA turret and take the AA tanks, this would work almost as well. Granted, not as fast.

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Just threw this up as an idea in the beta test, and since it's such a hot button issue right now publicly I'm asking everyone's opinion here. What if nearly every interceptor received the MAR below. (Ignore any stats outside this as we can balance stats a bit to make this work if the general concept moves forward.) This is 100% me writing this save borrowing a bit of wording from Cyber. So this is a possible but not necessarily peek behind the veil, Derek hasn't even seen it yet likely.
 

  • Suppressive Fire Run- If the interceptor squadron passes over an enemy infantry squadron during it's Movement phase (even if moving flatout) they may in place of firing Main Ordnance normally make a Suppressive Fire run against the passed over squadron that ignores all Cover Saves and Protective MARs. Suppressive Fire Runs do not do damage in the normal sense. Rather, it is used to debilitate an enemy target Squadron. Compile the AD Pool with the squadron's interceptor weapons as normal and roll to hit using any MARs that may be in play. Should the number of hits generated equal or exceed the nearest enemy’s current DR, roll once on the table below. Should an attack roll enough hits to match or beat the nearest enemy’s current DR multiple times, then roll a number of times on the table equal to the number of times the current DR was reached, and apply all results.
    • 1-2: Gone to Ground- Until the end of the turn the affected Squadron treats all Main Ordnance Firing and CQB as Rushed, and may not use Focused Fire.
    • 3-4: Fortifications Damaged- Until the end of the turn, the cover save of any terrain the attacked unit was occupying at the time is reduced by 1. Place a Debilitating Marker on the terrain to mark this. This effect is not cumulative and has no effect on infantry not occupying terrain.
    • 5: FALL BACK!- Attacked Squadron gains a Disorder Marker.
    • 6: Shell Shocked- The Squadron gains an Activation Marker. If the Attacked Squadron already has an activation marker, treat as FALL BACK!
Directorate interceptors with their cyber weapons would of course not get this MAR.

 

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Why would interceptors have a special attack directed against ground troups? And why only them? I don't get it... 

It also seems that it would be overpowered against infantry... How weapons designed to hunt down aerial targets could be able to affect entranched infantry in a building? And again, why just them and not any aerial unit for example?

 

If interceptors have to be buffed, I'm not sure this is the way to do it...

 

EDIT: Also, considering a DR of 3 for infantry and no defensive MARs or cover, any interceptor squadron is able to pass their DR multiple times, resulting in multiple effects... Too many effects?

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Your edit implies you factored in their AD.

 

The idea was that most of the interceptor weapons are saturation weapons. Aerial flak cannons/missiles, low caliber high rate of fire guns, and similar weapons on fast moving platforms don't do well against infantry or most armour. It's like shooting a swarm of flies with buckshot from a moving car, you'll miss them. It CAN however be well suited for saturating ground targets for a more psychological effect, aka it will disrupt the hell out of the flies in the analogy. Laying down lots of noisy often earthshaking but highly inaccurate fire is going to cause an effect, it just won't be a direct damaging one.

 

The problem is we have several suggestions to fix the major issue with Interceptors... but most cause a secondary issue of making them VERY specialized. This makes them dual specialized. This is basically just anti-infantry cyberwarfare, that everyone without cyber will theoretically have access to. Maybe even make it a Kurak only thing as Din/Relth have strong infantry traits already and Directorate have cyberwarfare instead. Basically throwing this out there as a "should I even consider pushing such a mechanic."

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Your edit implies you factored in their AD.

 

The idea was that most of the interceptor weapons are saturation weapons. Aerial flak cannons/missiles, low caliber high rate of fire guns, and similar weapons on fast moving platforms don't do well against infantry or most armour. It's like shooting a swarm of flies with buckshot from a moving car, you'll miss them. It CAN however be well suited for saturating ground targets for a more psychological effect, aka it will disrupt the hell out of the flies in the analogy. Laying down lots of noisy often earthshaking but highly inaccurate fire is going to cause an effect, it just won't be a direct damaging one.

 

The problem is we have several suggestions to fix the major issue with Interceptors... but most cause a secondary issue of making them VERY specialized. This makes them dual specialized. This is basically just anti-infantry cyberwarfare, that everyone without cyber will theoretically have access to. Maybe even make it a Kurak only thing as Din/Relth have strong infantry traits already and Directorate have cyberwarfare instead. Basically throwing this out there as a "should I even consider pushing such a mechanic."

 

 

Excuse me, I don't understand what you mean by "Your edit implies you factored in their AD."...  :mellow: 

 

For the "fluff" explanation, I can see your point and it could make sense but I don't really like the idea... Modern fighter planes cannot be used to target infantry, even if they have high rate fire guns or missiles. They're just not fitted to this. But this is just my humble opinion :)

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The thing is aircraft in Plantefall move more like aircraft in the WW1 era; that is they are slow and move over the battlefield in comparable speed to ground infantry and mech groups. As such the aircraft could most certainly adopt a duel role of being capable of having a viable threat to ground targets and infantry is an ideal choice. It also means that the interceptors don't have to battle as much with the gunships which are heavier hitters.

Duel role certainly allows the interceptors to allow more versatility and that might well be the key to their saviour in the game. If the game can't accommodate them becoming more specialist then the best solution is to make them more generalist. Let them have the anti-infantry role as well as a side, it won't be their best but it at least means if a player takes them the interceptors have viable function it their opponent doesn't take any air of their own*

Part of this I feel HAS to consider the future of Planetfall that we gamers can't see. It needs to ask the question of how air units in general are being dealt with a year or two down the line so that what we have as interceptors now balances with those future releases. Ergo if in half a year we are getting air-cores and air-armies and all then we might not need a change to the interceptor as it will find a place; if however we are looking at more ground based releases with the odd bit of air then a duel role would suite them well.

*As an in game thought interceptors in a sci-fi world might well be designed to hunt down dropships flying in and also the infantry that pour out of them; an ideal role for a fast attack aircraft designed to be light, speedy and to hit lightly armoured targets.

As an aside Epic 40K had faster aircraft; they would fly onto the board from off-table and sweep through fast on strikes, could be countered by ground AA fire and other fliers, before they'd swoop off table again to refuel.

Planetfall hasn't got this system and honestly I'd argue that with its scale and the size of air units it wouldn't be beneficial to go that way. Planetfall has bigger models, smaller army sizes and wants those air units on the battlefield all the time.

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