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Stoobert

Played it: what I like and what I don't

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Feel free to disagree or correct.  Simply my opinions.  I'm just trying to help this become better before it becomes FSA 3.0 (I see the writing on the wall)

 

Like:

  • models: wow, love the modular, love the look. 
  • turning: simpler, faster and still tactical and still good 'vibe'.   
  • combining dice: I thought I would hate it - but didn't.  don't miss linking at all.  new players' brains hurt no more!
  • I thought I would miss range bands.  I don't.  The number of dice in PB EF and LR gives the same vibe

Not like:

  • the damage chart: introduces too much random.  Is rolling a handful of d6 not random enough?  Also, is this 1988, is this Ogre? It's frustrating to new players too, they just scored a solid hit!  And then B.S... a single disorder marker?  Big complaints.  Carnage or no, please get rid of the chart.  Crit chart?  Fine.  Shunt Entry chart, Fine.  But not damage....
  • rulebook needs work: a little disorganized and tough to locate important info (example: range band inches

Almost there:

  • ship cards: handy but why not make them REALLY useful?  (see ideas below)
  • disorder: like stacking, like the "lose initiative to clear tokens" but the cause and effect of disorder needs rethinking
  • DR no CR  I miss comparing to two stats, see below*
  • RIP Battle Log, that's good, but score points per model, like in Planetfall.  This encourages different squad size.

Ideas:

This is where I put on my Game Designer hat:

 

1. Rather than a chart (aaargh!) give every ship two stats: Damage Rating and Damage Control.  If your attack equals DR, take a hit token, DC take a disorder token.  Double DR?  Take two damage tokens (and maybe a critical hit).  DC will typically be lower, unless a ship has "Superior Design"??  Example Terran Cruiser has DC3 and DR5.  6 hits will produce 2 disorder markers and one damage marker

 

2. Look for ways to clear the cluttered table of any tokens except damage/disorder and a generic "crit" marker that reminds you to look at your card.  Since you're printing stat cards anyway, why not allow photocopy (or laminate) for personal use.  Number your ships, and mark of little bubbles when things happen like crits or whatever.  (example: Warmachine)

 

3. Critical Hits...occur when either DC or DR value is doubled in a single attack.  Maybe separate tables, or maybe a d6 vs a 2d6 on the same table.  Look to BattleTech Alpha Strike for a cool way to handle Crit.  

   a.There are only a few crit types.  

   b. Each crit type reduces a particular effect, and tokens can stack.  

   c. mark of your crits on the card (see #2)

 

Hope this helps!  Taskforce is a good stab, just needs some fine tuning.

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Does that mean FSA 3.0 will be less similar to Taskforce than 2.0 already is?  I doubt it.  :P    Like I said, I'm just trying to help not raise a kerfuffle.  I still see the writing though.

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I agree with all of the OP's "likes".  The models really are a significant notch up from previous models (which were already great). 

 

On the topic of disorder and how it affects this game, I realized that it really is a good proxy for all the critical effects.  If you look at the myriad of critical effects at FSA, they either fundamentally reduce your defense or reduce your risk or boarding.  And that is exactly what "disorder" does in FSTF.  So when we play Taskforce, I totally see in my mind all of those  "disorder" as all of those critical effects (fire, hazard, radiation, shields offline, etc.)  I think it is such an elegant simplification if you know what FSTF's "disorder" represents in FSA.

 

IMO, I don't mind the damage table.  It is interesting and fun and that is where the MARs influence things.  I'm fine with it as a mechanic of the game. 

 

No disagreement on the rule book thing--but hey, it is very clear that SG is amazing at plastic minis, but not so good with words and paper/pdfs.  All the rules are there, but it is the epitome of efficiency as all the rules are only listed one time (unfortunately, not where you'd expect them). 

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I strongly dislike combining, at least how it works with the ships currently available.

 

Linking means that each ship can have a larger basic attack dice pool, making them more powerful individually. AD6 links to add 3 dice but also stands a decent chance of scoring a hit on something with DR4.

 

However AD6 is too much in a combining set as it would add 6 dice, so you reduce the AD of individual ships to something more like 3.

 

3AD however is so low it will rarely hurt a ships DR unless you're rolling and hoping for 6s, making it turn out like yahtzee.

 

In the Dir/Aq starter the Directorate light frigates get 3/2/- dice while the Aquan light frigates and cruisers have DRs of 5 and 7. With a full squadron at effective range you get either 12 dice or 2 sets of 6, the 2 sets of six aren't particularly a good idea as even hurting the Aquan frigates is not that reliable so you basically always fire the single shot of 12.

 

At closer range they get 2 attacks of 9 (if they're all alive, which they won't be) which works out alright. But what if you lose one? 5 get either a 15 or a 9 and a 6...the 6 isn't much reliable use while the 9 is fine...so you end up either rolling and just looking for loads of 6s and roll the 9 or overkill with the 15.

 

A single cruiser also has too few dice to hurt stuff and they're not that tough so losing one from the pair your get is pretty quick, rendering the remaining one fairly impotent.

 

Basically because each ship now has smaller AD pools due to the way combining works squadrons drop off in effectiveness very quickly making the alpha strike hugely powerful and making the end game feel like yahtzee, where the only rolls that matter are those where a host of 6s turn up making the end game one of pea shooters.

 

It may well be that once they get more ships with more stats and options and such out for us to use it will work better but the Dir/Aq starter set we played descended into boring dice rolling at each other in a generally meaningless maneuver free smushing of ships in the nearest open space. The abundance of 360 arcs rendered maneuver pretty bland and the escort carriers attack wings of 4-6 dice really struggle to hurt anything at all as they can't overcome the DR making SRS lame (and even worse due to interceptors).

 

Also too much Disorder in the damage tables considering that the ships generally have low defensive dice pools anyway.

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@Xystophoroi I read and re-read your post, thanks, because it's well thought out.  What's not apples-to-apples in your example is: the stats.  But I think you really bring up an important issue with your post that wasn't obvious to me.  Combining vs. linking isn't necessarily the cause of the problem you're experiencing, although it is a symptom.

 

Taskforce's Aquan DR 5 and DR 7 are higher than ships of their class for FSA.   Yet the Taskforce AD dice seem similar to FSA, maybe less. 

 

Example: 3/2 AD on the Directorate frigate.

 

Example: in FSA most frigates are DR/CR 4/5, 3/5, 3/6 or something like that.  And in FSA a single frigate generally throws 4 AD out of their most effective RB, some frigates 5AD. 

 

The problem is that:

 

1. a single ship doesn't generally have enough power to reliably damage a single ship of its same class in Taskforce.

2. a single ship DOES in FSA.

 

I don't know if that's intentional design, but it makes combining fire almost mandatory, and when you lose ships, you lose the ability to damage the enemy, period.  Taskforce compensates (a little bit) by allowing Regroup for free, but that just means you're going to see fleets with a lot of the same ships.

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Pros: nice models

Cons: rulebook

As to the ship turning it is restrictive and one dimensional. Making each ship in a teir move the same is dull.

Weapon systems are all the same honestly their is no point in differentiating guns and torps at this point as they operate the exact same just defend with different systems. Might as well just left them both blue.

The anemic attack dice per ship to compensate for combining to remove what takes barely 5 seconds to figure out linking will create problems later for balance and make casualties matter more. This will create an alpha strike game plain and simple who hits the most units first is going to have a massive advantage.

Dammage chart... Wtf where did this joke even come from?

3 space ship games competing for time and players from the same company is odd. Yes they are competing for time, money, and players.

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Honestly, while I'm trying not to be negative about it and I disagree on the point about games competing, I'm with Corehunter on this. There are reasons FSA is compelling in spite of the time commitment, and as long as that's true BOTH TF and Armada will be more valuable if effort is made to polish what is good about both. Taskforce is, by its nature, going to be a game that handles massed battles better. Armada is going to be more compelling to people like me who enjoy the small interractions between rules and taking the time play those things out.

To me, there's a list of problems I have with aspects of Taskforce weighing heavily on Armada; I'm all for things that polish the existing ruleset. Maybe the turning template is superfluous, maybe the game's math is more intuitive if you remove successes instead of dice when attacking, but in most cases trying to shift towards Taskforce rules is a step back for an intricate and exciting system that really just needs a spit shine.

So yeah, you see 3.0, I see something different. Imo, Spartan mismarketed this game. It has been pretty obvious to a lot of people for a relatively long time that Taskforce -fails- to make quickplay particularly compelling while -succeeding- at laying the groundwork for a compelling massed fleet action game. There are a pile of modifications that can be made to the existing Armada ruleset to make Quickplay within Armada work- I may have to post on the matter later, but for now I'll say both rulesets have merits and it would be fairly foolish to try to make them into one- you'd just fail at the goals of either. I would hope that the Tasforce ships are put more in line with their Armada counterparts once some more "standard" ships are statted that can take the roles the currently statted ships do- I believe (relative) consistancy in terms of what does what will be key to the success of both games, as well as to linking them in a meaningful way.

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I was thinking about the linking dice problem. I wonder if there is a more hybrid solution. Like each weapon system has a Focus and a Link stat. Like the Focus gets 6 dice and links contribute 3 dice. That way you can just add them all up but it keeps that firepower curve that people want.

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That'd work, but why not just keep halving then? So here is what I thought, linking with half dice isn't so tedious if:

* You don't subtract damage from AD, but from successes. That's already the Taskforce way.

* You don't half for terrain before the linking pool but rather after, if ANY ships contributed are impeded.

With both new rules in place you only have to:

1) choose a focus model get its full AD
2) add a pool of half AD of each linked ships
3) halve all dice if impeded/cloaked
4) roll, subtracting successes for your damage

then maybe... (combining with my post of above)

5) compare against DC and that's how many disorder you get

6) compare against DR and that's how many damage you take, take 2x or more and roll on a crit chart

Step 1-4 is faster and has some interesting consequences. Damaged or impeded ships might shoot at other targets instead of bringing their buddies effectiveness down. Not necessarily bad and an interesting tactical twist.  Step 5-6 is my little brainstorming to lose the chart.

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The reason I was thinking that basically pre-reducing would be better was mostly from a new player perspective. We taught a class at Adepticon and nearly the whole room struggled with the linking concept.

Also, it gives the ability to further diversify ships. Perhaps some have lower focus values but higher linking values compared to their counterparts.

Regardless, I agree that damage should subtract successes instead of AD. That at least keeps the math from shifting from turn to turn.

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I don't think there is risk of Taskforce becoming FSA 3.0 because Spartan Neil loves his big complex games.  Listen to him talk about his love of Uncharted Seas in his interview on Firebase Delta.  I think he'll keep FSA as a big granular (aka clunky) game.  I really hope that both game can survive and thrive for both types of players. 

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Also, it gives the ability to further diversify ships. Perhaps some have lower focus values but higher linking values compared to their counterparts.

 

 

I see what you mean.  A higher than average "linking value" on a particular ship would be a more granular way of handling Pack Hunter.   Just like my idea for a "DC" (damage control) value would be a granular way of handling Superior Design.

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(Terrible digitised voice) RISE FROM YOUR GRAVE!

OK, a bit of necrothreading, but just done my first proper game of Taskforce-

1200pt Border Clash

Directorate vs Omnidyne

Forces

Directorate- Battle group: Eliminator Battleship; 2x Deterrent Battlecruisers; 3x Subjugator Heavy Cruiser; 4x Hostility Drone

                    Recon group: 3 Ascendancy Escort Carrier; 5x Impact Light Frigates

Omnidyne- Battle group: Executive Battleship; 3x Auditor Gunship; 6x Synergy Corvette

                   Recon group: 4 Paradigm Escort Carrier, 6x Synergy Corvette

Final score 13/0 to Omnidyne! When stuff dies, it dies fast. Compounded by bad rolls for the Directorate, getting disorder and low damage whilst Omnidyne deleted whole ships in one go.

The game took about 2 hours, bearing i mind we were in and out of the book and this was my opponents first game (my third, 1st using more than a patrol box). With familiarity we could get this down to about an hour or so.

What I like-

Speed and simplicity in a nutshell. Turning is much easier (if less tactical), combining makes shooting quick and easy, only one modifier for offensive/defensive rolls. Many complaints about Armada are addressed here.

On the fence-

Boarding could be quicker. Rolling to reduce pools then rolling to attack is a speed bump. Successes coming off rather than dice seems harsh, reducing pools to a minimum of 1 would tie into Armada better, and still allow for a lucky shot. VP's or BL...I'm not sure. The damage table...

We need more Battlegroups! When deploying, you place battlegroups, not just individual units, so you place whole portions of your force at once. This is probably the point, but it looses some flavour and tactical play.

What I don't-

Once your on the back foot, it can be a bugger to get back in the game, even with alternating activation. Balance has also suffered. Ships of the same tier can only attack equal or higher tiers by dog-piling onto one model, splitting shots is a no-go in TF. Cloaking...once it's off, it's off. You can't turn it back on. At all....

 

Ok, so what would I fix?

Cloaking; Can activate/deactivate at the start of their activation. When active, attacks against the unit use the Heavy mechanic, attacks by the unit use the Light mechanic.

I've mentioned about damage/disorder modifiers already, as have others above.

The Damage chart...I don't have answer I can pull out of my behind, so I can't give anything here, but I recommend using the Carnage table to speed up the game.

Battlegroups- My take, use/discard as you will!

Battlegroup: Required- 1x T1, 1x T2, 1xT3

                     Optional- 1xT2, upto 2x T3

                     Engagement Orders- None

Command Group: Required- 1xT1 (must be a Battleship, Carrier/variant or Dreadnought); 1x T3

                              Optional- 1xT2, 1xT3

                              Engagement Orders- Must be the first unit deployed (after Defense rings). May remove D3 Disorder markers for free on any                                     one friendly unit. If the Command Group has any disorder markers, it must remove these first!

Defensive ring Group- Required: 1x Battlestation, 1x Defence Platform squadron(battery?)

                                    Optional- 1x Defence platform battery, 1x T2, 1xT3

                                    Engagement Orders- Must be the first unit deployed (before command groups). All attached ships must deploy within 6" of                                      the Battlestation or platforms. This may take ships out of the usual deployment zone.

 

Sorry for this being incoherent. I'm sat here unable to sleep and full of cold...the Japanese whiskey isn't helping...:D

TL;DR- Whilst I prefer the complexity of FA, TF's quick and dirty approach has merit. Flawed, and a good starting point, but refinement is needed! I know from a FB post that the rules are being worked on, the main reason the rules as is are not available as PDF or in store. Time will tell.

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The Damage Chart killed Task Force before my group ever played it. I didn't like but was willing to play it once to try, the two former Warhammer players took one look at it and both said NO! Another was fine with Armada and didn't want to learn a new system, the other 2 didn't want to bother based on the two ex-40k players opinions on the chart.

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