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GuzizuG

UK Expo 2016 Aftermath and Cheesy List

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I posted in the UK Games Expo 2016 Dystopian Wars Tournament thread about the Aerial List I used being ‘cheesy’ and I said I would follow it up with a post, well this is it.

First just to cut out any confusion what do I mean by a cheesy list? It’s also known as a gamey list where whoever constructs the list takes advantage of a loop hole or a rule which maximises their advantage with a view to winning nothing else, the CoA Game of Drones was an example. Players who consistently deploy such list in friendly games tend to run out of friendly games. It’s just no fun playing against them, which tends to control such players, until you come to tournaments, then, as far as I am concerned, the gloves come off. The loop holes and rules tend to get dealt with in time either officially by Spartan, for example changing the drones rule albeit clumsily, or by Tournament organisers by prohibiting certain things, for example all dreadnoughts, or using scenarios victory conditions, or putting other limits once they have seen the problem. Identifying the problem, as far as I am concerned, is what the Tournament is ideal for. Tournament play in my opinion is the ultimate play test arena. This is where the rules and model specification are pushed to the limit in pursuit of a tournament winner. In a friendly game it would be fair to challenge a cheesy list, as you are playing for fun and you want a balanced game, for a tournament at what point does not playing a cheesy list become patronising? Given the choice I would always prefer the cheese to the patronage.

So that’s the story of why I played the cheesy aerial list. The list I used consisted of

Imperium + 6 SAW + Commodore
Imperium + 6 SAW
Imperium + 6 SAW
Imperium + 6 SAW
Adler
Adler
Adler
3 x Zerstorer
2 x Fighter SAS each of 5 SAW

Total Points 990

Activations 18

Apart from the list being all aerial, it also uses activation spam, and the Prussian synergy between Tesla and Speershudler. It is top heavy but is safe from boarding by corvettes/mediums so long as it stays obscured, there being no real aerial boarding threat. It is immune from torpedo attack and can easily convert it’s fighter SAS to torpedo bomber SAS to deal with submerged fleets. It’s biggest problem is that it is slow and weak on boarding. It’s natural enemy is a gun line fleet as it has nowhere to hide and it takes so long to close.

There are other advantages from the Tournament as we were playing mission cards whatever mission card is selected an Imperium must be brought down, you can’t get 50% without doing so. An Imperium with 9 HP and a DR of 6 and CR of 10, rugged construction 1 and being hit only on a 5 and 6 will take time to bring down. The other thing to note is that in over four years of playing Dystopian Wars I have only played against an Aerial fleet once. I have only used an aerial fleet twice before in friendlies to see how they played. If I am typical of most players then there is not a lot of experience in dealing with Aerial fleets.

The list came out top and I don’t think a single one of my opponents relished playing it. I guess that I won by being the top rat, I used two cheesy tactics to get my position, first the aerial fleet and second activation spam. Whether something needs to be done about Aerial lists I don’t know. This time I had the benefit of surprise next time I don’t know. I’m open to opinions.

Activation Spam is another area that needs to be looked at. I don’t think an activation spammer lost a game to any other player that was not also an activation spammer. As a result the top four places were taken by activation spammers, myself and the three Musketeers, Presidente, Omi and Bob, the fourth Thyphs, last year’s UK Expo winner, was absent being at MiLady’s pleasure.  Guess that puts me in with the Cardinal so God is also on my side, although according to Einstein ‘God does not play dice with the universe’, but what would he know?

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Having only played friendly matches, the victory conditions is my major frustration.

If you get kill all large it's often far harder than 'kill all smalls' or 'kill all medium'. And sometimes, the best strategy is to dissengage with and move your frigate out of the battle. (thats boooring). Luckily I haven't played versus a list where you must kill the dreadnaught to win...

 

Better victory conditions, yes please :)

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The trouble i have with such list (and I want to point out before i get accused of complaining I played against you with a smile on my face) is it doesn't match the fluff, would the Prussians be able to field four Imperiums in such a small engagement? I realize we are discussing tourney play here and the fluff is sacrificed on the alter of winning but are we trying represent a game world on the tabletop or are we just trying to get the best numbers so my numbers with the aid of my dices numbers create the best resultant numbers? I don't wish to sound bitter, or knock down the fine job you made of crafting a list, just food for thought.

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But one question from one who has never played a tournament, what is the biggest problem with activation spam list? Is it a problem with carriers spesificly or does activation spam come in other forms?

 

Would it help that you have to activate both a SAS & a carrier as one activation?  (I for my part would view that as a benefit also)

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In a competitive environment the best list and player should win.  If I am paying money for a chance to win prizes then winning is what I am going for.  As long as the list is legit by the tournament rules then so be it and fluff be damned.  I hate the act of calling a list chessy or such because all players have similar options for their points.  The CF version of this list would have been even more rage inducing to play against with the 3-4 napalm nodes flying about.

Beyond stating an event is Naval Core only there is not much the organizer can or should do. 

On Spartan's side I would love to see Strategic Value just go away.  It has failed as a mechanism and models should simply be costed appropriately.  Tacking on a number "if the thing actually manages to die" is fundamentally useless.  Even worse it skews every scenario created that rewards you for not just killing things.  At 200 points of SV this list really should have been costed at around 1100.  A great value for it's points and reason #1 why this needs removed.

 

2 hours ago, Grand-Stone said:

Would it help that you have to activate both a SAS & a carrier as one activation?  (I for my part would view that as a benefit also)

 

Realistically this would never work the way people want it to.  Far too many grey areas and extra tracking.

Either you allow fleet carriers to be much more powerful by activating two groups of SAS and a carrier in one activation, or you run into issues where you still have non-carrier sources of SAS being prevalent (most heavy bombers and LAS).

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Agree that it's better to simply make the expensive units more expensive than the strategic points.

Seems to me that activation spam are connected to SAS. I for my part am starting to enjoy the SAS rules, so do many others. And that carriers do dominate, isn't a problem in itself. But some ideas of improvement:

'SAS are always activated in addition to one other unit, either before or after'

Spesific SAS hunters could be added. (hunter[sas] combined with longer range versus sas).

Carriers and units with many sas could be given slightly higher cost.

 

 

 

 

 

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16 hours ago, CaptBrucesea said:

The trouble i have with such list (and I want to point out before i get accused of complaining I played against you with a smile on my face) is it doesn't match the fluff, would the Prussians be able to field four Imperiums in such a small engagement? I realize we are discussing tourney play here and the fluff is sacrificed on the alter of winning but are we trying represent a game world on the tabletop or are we just trying to get the best numbers so my numbers with the aid of my dices numbers create the best resultant numbers? I don't wish to sound bitter, or knock down the fine job you made of crafting a list, just food for thought.

I remember well our game and what impressed me most was the spirit in which you played it. As I recall your East India Fleet only had three squadrons that could engage me with anything but ack-ack. If the roles had been reversed I would hope that I would have played with the same heart.

I agree it would have been nice to have been able to encapsulate the games in the tournament to a narrative. While the list was exceptional in it's content it would not be impossible, consider a special mission, or this being all that was left of a much larger fleet beating it's way home, or perhaps a mutiny at a base and the mutineers seeking their escape. Given my other opponents were all Imperial Bond, Prussian, Italian and French, then a story of mutiny or maybe even a massive robbery and an escape could be constructed. It all depends on you imagination and story telling capability.

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15 hours ago, Presidente said:

Boooooo mr guz!:P 

The three musketeer's:D Bobs Albert, Oml is Treville and I'm Cardinal Richelieu in disguise:P

 

Albert? Treville? I was think more along the lines of the original Alexandre Dumas - Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D'Artganan or the film with Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, Michael York and Frank Finley

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5 hours ago, Grand-Stone said:

But one question from one who has never played a tournament, what is the biggest problem with activation spam list? Is it a problem with carriers spesificly or does activation spam come in other forms?

 

Would it help that you have to activate both a SAS & a carrier as one activation?  (I for my part would view that as a benefit also)

From my experience. The way activation spam can be taken advantage of is in a number of ways. The simplest is the turn 1 move. To engage the enemy you need to move forward and typically will engage at Range Band (RB) 4 and with faster models, if you just charge forward, at RB 3. The worst case will be when you will have moved your entire fleet by the time the spammer has fyet to move a model. The spammer then has two advantages first he know where all your models are and second he can now move all his models to be able to best position them and return fire at RB2 and 3. Typically doing more damage. Turn 2 you can play the same game depending on the situation although it's more dangerous as the ranges are shorter and the spammer, by going second, is at risk of inflecting less damage by waiting to fire second. What can also be done is the spammer can engineer a double move. A tactic I have used in the past is with corvettes, they move last at the end of Turn 1 and first at the start of Turn 2 this means that if you have a vulnerable boarding target the corvettes usually will be able to get to it, once there they first fire at anything nearby in RB1, if they can, and then board the target. If the corvettes have also been spammed then you have a big problem as typically unless you can thin them out at RB4 two full waves of corvettes will prize most anything. I know it works as I have often used it typically taking out the commodore on the third or fourth activation of the second turn.  Since if you use say the Prussian Saxony as an example, using that tactic you can prize out to a range of 34" on turn 2, that is anything that is beyond 6" of your opponents edge or in other words 2" into their deployment zone.

Carriers are the main supplier of activation spam, you can also do it with Local Air Support 3 x SAS of 3 SAW each and a Recce SAS for four activitaions as well as torpedo boats, midget submarines etc.

Keeping carriers plus their SAS or anything else associated with them as a group is something worth trying to degrade the benefits. From a practical point of view keeping track of which SAS go with what model may be a headache. Open to ideas on that one.

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You don't have to keep track of which sas corresponds to which sas...

You could go like this:

Default rule:

-All sas have to be activated last.

If you have unit with either the 'carrier (n)' Mar, or squad support ('sas') you may activate one sas either before or after the main unit activation as one activation. That would definitively remove the 'waiting game' use for 'sas'.

It will remove the usefullness of carriers as 'lets wait and see' during round 1, but will improve their use on round 2 etc. Moving a sas into position & then activating the carrier. :D I enjoy both ideas. And you don't have to keep track on which sas belongs to which unit, just which units has the trait.

 

Similarly could be done to other 'minor' units.

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You also remove the ENTIRE option of using fighter sas to down bombers and other flyers.  You are just giving fleets that spam carriers even more bonuses over fleets that have 0-1.

Often in 1000 point games I will not bother to take carriers.  I really just prefer more guns and Britannia carriers are not great for that so I rely on LAS fighters.  By your new rules I do not have the option of being able to offensively use fighter sas in any capacity.  That heavy bomber lining up on my cruisers, yep gotta wait until the end of the turn for my fighters to go in.  Won initiative and would love to splash those dive bombers, nope the fact my opponent did bring a carrier means they can activate at any time but I have to wait.  The only way for me to get any tactical use out of my starting sas is to bring a carrier.  Yep.  That is a great improvement.

Forcing sas to activate in at a set order has been, is, and always will be a horrid option every time someone mentions it.

Also, you just made every recon sas in the game completely useless since their purpose in life is to spot targets before the big guns fire.  This has all the hallmarks of a well thought out rule.

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Instead of being so negative mr Veldrain, try to find a solution.

It does definitively solve the problem with 'activation spam' as described by GuzizuG. You can no longer activate you're SAS just to see what the enmies do. SAS are still powerful, as they should be! But now they are, according to me, powerful in the role they are suppose to be powerful in.

If you find it a problem, you may do the following:

- you may even include a rule where  you may activate one sas indepenendtly of carriers whenever you want, but all other goes per default last.

- you can still use your SAS as CAP.

-if carriers are overpowered, increase the prize of Carriers

- include SAS hunter options in other units.

 

Please, there are tons of solutions. Please be creative.

 

 

 

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Evening guys,

Let's try to keep this positive, eh?  I wandered into the UK Games Expo tourney event week past last Sunday - right at lunch time.  Missed seeing any action - but I did see the "4 Prussian skyforts" on a table and thought "Wow, that's gotta be some kind of tough fleet."  But it was a tournament - where the rules obviously allowed you to take them.  

Now, for a casual game with your buddie - play to what suits you guys.  Yesterday I had a 1500 point game with a mate where we'd already agreed on a max of ONE carrier.  And we had a cracking time.  If there's things you don't particularly like - then sort them in your local group.  But if you head off to a tournament event - you play to whatever the event's rules happen to be, and if you don't like them - I'd suggest that you give the event a miss.

Hey, we all do this for FUN.  It's our escape from "normal life" and no-one actually forces us to play whatever games we chose to play.  So enjoy them, and if that means coming up with something that you and your local group like - all power to your elbow.

And yes - I might even get out of my little pond one of these days and join in with an event.  I used to play a LOT of competitions; but now, I far more enjoy the social side of things.  And I find D Wars to be excellent for that.

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I tend to find that activation sp is usually only very usefull in turn 1, maybe in turn 2. But most of the time in turn 2 there ate more important activations then moving SAS arround.

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54 minutes ago, Nicius said:

I tend to find that activation sp is usually only very usefull in turn 1, maybe in turn 2. But most of the time in turn 2 there ate more important activations then moving SAS arround.

 quite true, but in general against a good player you will most likely be on the path to losing because he is dictating the play

 

Tournaments like this bring up some utterly horrific lists, I dont blame Mr Guz for the list, it was designed to win, and win it did.

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9 hours ago, Presidente said:

Having sas superiority has no downsides, they help later by being dive bombers:) 

Albert the 5th musketeer was a cartoon about a tiny musketeer:P, Treville is the captain.

 

But that  is far more accetable than the 'round 1 waiting game'. :)   The thing is also, sas are far more useful if you have superiority. So 22 sas is more than twice as effective as 10 sas.  But if you all agree that carriers are the most powerful units in the game, espcially if taken on 'mass' then ... preaty simple solutin: increase price of the carrier. My idea will remove the waiting game problems for round 1 (or round 2, depending on how agressive round 1 was)

 

However, I also believe that victory conditions needs to be revised also. Any thoughts in that direction?

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I don't think this needs a change of rules (or points) for this.

If you don't want SAW spam in your tournament, simply put a limit on the number of SAW (not SAS as that penalises factions without Fleet carriers) in the same way as many tournaments exclude Dreadnaughts. Or just  reduce spam of any kind by limiting the number of squadrons of any particular ship to say 2 (e,g, max 2 corvette squadrons, 2 fleet carriers etc).

I think defining the core for the fleet would also be reasonable, as otherwise many factions with strong reliance on Torpedoes, mines or boarding, like KoB, KoD and will be seen less often in future tournaments .... or just us the Ironclad rules which would force the Aerial units to come down out of the clouds to achieve objectives.

Nasty fleet this one (Well done sir!:)), but certainly not unbeatable - for instance I would think an FSA fleet with rockets, guns (with sustained fire) and a reasonable number of fighters would give it a run for it's money.  I assume the EIMC player had majored on torps, so wasn't going to be his day.

 

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The saw rules are fine really, and activation advantage is only really devastating on turn 1. Turn 2 and others it can be useful, but does not have that same rage inducing feeling of rage aspect that being forced to move your entire fleet before your opponent has in turn one.

It is an issue that makes carriers and other saw sources perhaps a little too strong en mass. One solution is to limit things but that always feels artificial and inelegant. Carrier spam has a good number of weaknesses, but the activation spam they bring allows them to be countered by dictating the course of the battle too much. 

I have a solution that I think would work nicely,  but would be a flat out rule change  (something that has to be approached with great care)

My solution is that saw from carriers do not deploy at the start of the game with everything else. Instead they launch from their carrier during the first turn when said carrier activates and at the end of the carriers movement phase. The saw would deploy like drones being relaunched (I. E. Within 4 inches and with an activation marker).

This kills the activation spam problem in turn one, but has no effect on subsequent turns. It has no effect on other sources of saw (local air support, squadron support etc) So still allows some flexibility in regards to using them and allowing turn 1 indirect fire to still happen.

With this one change I believe carrier spam would be brought into line with other options without loosing any flavour that the fleet can have. It would be a minimal change so balance should be mostly unaffected.

The only unintended changes that might be negative  (that I can think of) is that it would reduce the initial movement potential of fighters (rather than their ownmovement value, on turn 1 fighters would only be able to get as far up the board as their carriers movement speed +4 imches) and reconciliation saw from carriers would not be able spot on turn one.

Now this is only an idea to curtail the power of activation spam, not solve any other problem. For tournaments I still recommend ironclad due to scenario win conditions and a set core type for the tournament.

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I personally never saw the point in local air support....its a way to give everyone more pointless activations

 

I dont even buy the myth that there there to help people without carriers take on aerial units, because your opponent gets the same

wouldnt something along the lines of....if you dont take a carrier then you get 5 free local sas, if you do then you loose the free stuff...makes it actually a choice between a battleship and a carrier....unless your french then you can still have the tourbillon which is both!!

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I attended the tournament with my new and vitalised British, who acquitted themselves quite valiantly.

After facng the filthy French SAS spam, thankfully due to me never really leaving 8" of my table edge, never really was an issue, however:

If this tournament had been about capturing objectives I would have been stuffed.  The fact is activation spam dictates the flow of the game and when you consider some nations carriers (dirty, filth Frenchy flying thing) are super battle ships, will get the first shots at closer range bands, potentially doing the critical damage needed.

Although I really like the idea of Thamoz's solution of launching in the first turn, I also like what a Firestorm player suggested at the event .. when you activate the Carrier, you also activate it's SAS.

I do appreciate the changes that Spartan are making to DWars and hope they will find a balancing solution that is fair to all.

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