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Paladin21

Interceptor SRS Rebalance

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This could very quickly spiral into an advanced and fascinating discussion on terminology and game construction. I'll keep it breif, maybe we spark this terminology discussion up again later?

 

I reject the TAC suggestion as it adds a stopgap that does not solve the core issue. If the TAC were to function in an interesting manner, I might chamge my tune, but SRS are so simple I cannot imagine a rule that 1) cuts their effectiveness, 2) does not make them useless, 3) does not restrict TAC diversity (already a problem given how... Not good the racial and alliance TACs, a few exceptions withstanding, tend to be.) and 4) is not effectively a "gotcha" mechanic. Likewise, I reject MARs for similar reasoning- though as there is certainly more that can be done to boost other SRS types rather than just restricting Interceptors, I'd be more open to MAR-based solutions. In the end though, I wonder why any of that would be necessary when either the numbers and rules could be adjusted to make things more balanced and define roles (a personal theoretical suite of changes involves a Fighter movement increase to 24", Interceptor PD being reduced to 1 a piece, and only Interceptors being equiped to stop Torpedos. No time right now, but I'll elaborate on why if necessary later) OR, as there has been a lot of question about SRS not effectively representing what people expect from carrier combat on top of them already being a somewhat broken mechanic, a redesign from the ground up. People have made all manner of interesting suggestions on the later point, everything from working in Taskforce's mechanics to working out some process by which SRS "stick" to ships theu are protecting/attacking.

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1 hour ago, Shadelkan said:

Why not just remove SRS' ability to add any sort of PD to Torpedo defense? Make escorts useful again in the process.

They have had this ability for three Editions now, it's not going away any time soon.

It wasn't a problem in the last two editions because there were multiple methods with which to deal with it, all of which have either been removed or gimped into ineffectiveness.

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Starting with the shorter response; I don't think you can remove SRS PD combining, or perhaps linking, into other defense rolls during an activation without replacing it with something equally useful.  Escorts can only be truly effective for the typically large capitol ships they accompany and over reliance could create a very notable vulnerability to nuclear armament of all kinds.  They are rather expensive as well for all the work that they do, in my opinion, and this isn't just because Interceptor tokens exist either.

You must also consider that Interceptor coverage, for better and worse, is a large bubble and this is very important when considering alternating squadron activations.  When ships activate they can and likely will move outside the range of an escort's coverage, unless they are part of the same squadron which is activated.  Ships which are not a part of an escort's squadron are either moving away from the escort or watching the escort move away from them in one fell swoop.  In either case the end result is that escorts are more PD hill and leave very noticeable gaps in PD coverage which will make it substantially easier for the aggressor to find holes in your comparatively weaker non-Interceptor PD network.

On a side note, Commodore Jones does make a valid point concerning how Interceptors are in a better place than ever in the Firestorm Armada system; given how previously effective tools to swat away SRS tokens no longer exist.

 

 

Now, Hive, while I am actually on the same side of the fence regarding TAC cards as you are it is not for precisely the same reasons.  As I hopefully explained, though I'm not saying you didn't read it mind you, I believe a TAC card solution to this problem merely plays sleight of hand with the issue.  If you put in a TAC card that overcomes a problem players may end up regularly encountering, with very likely odds but depending on local player meta, and have no other effective solution for, you are in effect trading one devil for another.  Alternatively the solution is ineffective, in which case the TAC card is moot and irrelevant.

I do not include an option where the TAC card works perfectly because that relies on the player *always* bringing that card.  The only meta situation where a player would not bring this card is probably where there are no Interceptors on the board, but why would a player suddenly drop PD mountain?  The Interceptor Tokens are cheap and very effective in their role of providing additional dice in PD rolls for a notable portion of a player's fleet.  There is very little advantage gained for intentionally not bringing Interceptor Tokens, and at best that circumstance would make Carriers only useful for carrying Bombers, Assault Craft, or Support Shuttles as the fleet situation demands.

TAC cards, as has been pointed out, have a problem with diversity as well, for varied reasons.  With a usually slim selection of cards in hand, and useful cards to choose from to begin with, a new Anti-Interceptor introduction would simply stagnate fleet design even further into a mirror match as I see it.  I dislike the TAC card solution because it throws a monkey wrench into another piece of game design, yet as I stated earlier I would rather try this during a few games as a solution rather than nothing at all or ripping up SRS rules and re-writing from scratch.

I've just retread ground sadly, but I do want to make my own reasoning clear.  From your list of points concerning TACs and Interceptors I would like to comment thusly:  I can imagine situations where a TAC solution would not lower SRS effectiveness, say fielding multiple small Interceptor Tokens and only being able to affect one Token; but this makes the TAC solution useless and therefore a moot point for discussion, considering ineffective solutions are rather pointless choices.  It is possible that, depending on the TAC's specific effects, SRS are not rendered impotent by a single card.  If it only affects one Token then it might force a multiple Token meta solution which may end result into only partial but notable fleet coverage loss for a turn, or multiple turns depending on retrieval availability and cost.

This still does not invalidate the third point you bring up, which I've basically completely agreed with and pointed out why I believe it is a poor solution.  Still, I would honestly rather there be a poor solution than none at all, at least until a better solution presents itself.  On the fourth point, this seems more like a concern for the nature of the mechanic and possibly also the emotion impact on the player?  Having a Damocles sword hanging over your head, inescapable, inevitable, and waiting to ruin your plans in one sweeping motion.  If that is your intent then I agree that I find such mechanics psychologically brutal to deal with when they are not a commonly used, highly available tool in a system.

 

 

While adding MARs makes more ripples in the pond of game balance, they are usually focused on a single goal and simple to drop into the system as it plays already with minimal fuss.  It is fundamentally re-writing the rules, as any notable editorial change would be; but not on the scale of completely rebuilding of the system from the ground up, for better and worse.  This is more than I would initially want to change without first making some other alterations and see if the waves mainly affect Interceptors and if those results are what was desired.  Still it is a solution I may end up toying with in the future, if nothing changes by then.

My foremost concern with Fighters in this role is that they do not provide the same enlarged area of PD coverage as Interceptors can.  Having a higher movement capability is fine, and being a Token they don't interfere with movement during activations, but the radius and thus full diameter of PD coverage is substantially smaller.  Moving faster doesn't significantly help when the purpose in question is covering more of a fleet with PD die roll assistance, and the actual coverage provided at any point is clearly worse.  The Interceptor's design of, "slower group movement but wider reaction space," works in favor of it's intended role much better than a simple movement distance allotment would.

There are really only two states for Interceptor PD values which matter, 1 and 2, because anything lower or higher only creates worse system problems.  The problem I see with only 1 point of PD is that this halves Interceptor Token value in a very linear manner.  However, can you say this actually cripples their effect?  While ships that can only carry 2-3 wings may really feel this change, larger carriers may be incentivized to simply carry 5-6 sized Interceptor tokens instead.

Granted the end result may be that values are halved and everyone walks away fine with this change.  Although if the player's local meta involves any significant torpedo use, where games might be decided by whether or not these rolls are effective, then really I can only see carriers doubling down on the Interceptor coverage instead.  Given that Interceptors are clearly effective at their role, the only question at this point is whether or not they were simply too cheap for their cost, which can only effectively be answered based upon the player meta you are engaged in.

Finally I don't understand why anyone would state that there is legitimate cause to restrict only Interceptors to being capable of assisting in PD die rolls.  Unless the end goal is unrestricted dominance of torpedo systems, I don't understand how non-Interceptor SRS are a key point in creating or eliminating, "PD mountain," as everything exists now.  Again the SRS system may benefit more from a total redesign, or what effectively could be a total redesign, yet I feel it is worthwhile to make small changes and play test that as the effort involved in maintaining stable game design should be relatively less.  I'd even go for a simple option that depletes Interceptor Tokens, place a marker next to them after their first combined PD defense roll for a turn, all other rolls during that turn are now linked instead of combined for that Token.  Boom, now they give one roll at 2 PD value, and all the rest are at 1 PD effectively.

 

Edit:  Hrmmm, this is a long post, gotta break it up a bit and such, like . . .  this, and maybe . . . so?  Ugh, also errors again.  My apologies about this being so long, I don't want to condense this any further though.

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Dr_Vector under the proposed PD token to state you only get 1 full roll, I actually like this idea a lot, if the 1 full roll could be used at a chosen not, not simply the first. Also with the stipulation that if they actually intercept another SRS they are not reduced in that dog fight as well. Past there I really like that idea. 

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The reason I propose that particular suite of changes is to define roles better- a Bomber attacks, an Interceptor defends, and a Fighter is afforded more range to move and bully enemy SRS. In the case of Bombers and Fighters, one taking them (and lets be realistic, they'd be taking Bombers 90% of the time) is taking them to attack, and yet there's this arbitrary additional benefit that is not really frequently talked about in-depth. Why and what is lost in removing it? 

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If I understand you correctly Misterbucket, you like the quick concept I came up with about an Interceptor Token depletion effect.  It's not a hard rule as written, just home brewed concept after all, so I don't see a problem elaborating and effectively stating this:

Interceptor Tokens may combine PD values for defensive fire once per turn; place an, "activation marker," beside the Interceptor Token after the related PD activation has completed.  No combined fire PD option using the, "activated," Interceptor Token's value may occur.  Remove all activation markers at the end of the turn.  Interceptor Tokens may use the linked fire option when contributing their PD value for defensive fire in all other relevant cases.

This wording should hopefully keep any rules lawyer efforts to a minimum, though I'm sure I'd need to drag a fine tooth comb over what I wrote to be sure.  The intent isn't to reduce Interceptor dog fighting capability, but to restrict their effects on PD rolls throughout an entire turn.  Still a cumbersome ruling compared to simply reducing the Interceptor PD value to 1, but potentially interesting in a meta environment, and avoids crippling Interceptors as an Anti-SRS utility at the same time.  Ripples in the pond as it were, reducing Interceptor PD values to 1 is a simple move, but what does that mean for their utility in chasing off other SRS tokens like bombers, or being chased off by other SRS tokens in turn?  It's a slippery slope even with a seemingly minor change.

 

I think the biggest problem in SRS roles is that three general roles don't currently exist.  An Interceptor is supposedly geared entirely towards the Anti-SRS and PD role; this is used as justification for why they devastate non-specialist craft.  Bombers are clearly meant to specialize in demolishing capitol ships, which lack heavy PD screens or other counters.  The Fighter is left with no game mechanic they can employ which another SRS doesn't already specialize in, and dominate, as the apex specialist.  Assault and Support SRS exist, but they are extreme specialists in a specified niche role.  My only thought is that Fighter and Interceptor SRS must be made on par with each other in dogfights.

Fighters could be given further movement allocation to move around and reach out farther on strikes than Interceptors; but I have not even guessed what this number should be or if it should change.  Interceptors still retain a larger and dominant coverage for PD and interception response regardless, but would no longer remain superior in straight up dogfights.  They can still add weight of die in a single engagement due to their extended reaction circles and overwhelm Fighters; but Fighters might be eventually altered to fill the role of a long range offensive striker, become far harder to drive off without overwhelming numbers, and can be sortied to drive off newly vulnerable enemy SRS.  Bombers would still remain the best at damaging capitol ships in a per activation standing, but Fighters could become the long range strike craft that upsets the current balance of power, again for better and worse.

I think it wouldn't be out of hand to change Fighter Tokens PD values to 2, and perhaps increase their movement allotment.  This makes them equally dangerous as Interceptors in a dogfight, and encourages greater wing investment if you want to engage or resist dogfights using Interceptors.  Of course, player meta would probably experience relatively dramatic shifts as new uses for the Fighter Token, and counters to it, are employed.  Fighters still don't provide better torpedo coverage, and using them as a shield will create more gaps than any Interceptor screen would; or at least make the Nuclear option very tempting and thus provide a dangerous downside to over reliance on Fighter Tokens for their PD values.  Small wing size Interceptor Tokens may become vulnerable to long ranging Fighters who sortie on direct dog fighting missions, upsetting the current dominant loitering behavior Interceptors use to jump in when needed.

 

 

I don't know if it would work well, but I like this concept, where Interceptors can beat Fighters only if they use brains instead of brawn to out maneuver and overwhelm incoming Fighters.  This feels more like what Interceptors should do, leverage their mobility rather than using outright better firepower to out perform Fighters.  Interceptors could still dominate the void, but they would require greater numbers, rather than the current handful of pilots, to be truly effective.  A wide spread Interceptor Token net would probably be able to punish lone Fighter Tokens trying to punch through, but it would require a set-up Interceptor network to be effective in countering the Fighter sortie and then still provide effective torpedo coverage.  I think only the large wing Fighter Tokens would threaten to upset in game balance with this set of changes; but it could happen and would need play testing to get a firm grip on whether or not this goes too far.

 

Edit:  Oh, and Hive, I didn't understand what you meant by, "additional arbitrary benefit," and what your statement exactly was at the end of your message.  So I apologize, but if you would like to read a response to that portion of the message, I'll have to ask you to please explain what you meant again.

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Ah, so then, what is the point of Bombers having a PD value at all more or less?  Well it has a relatively minor, but potentially still useful, effect on the game in my opinion.  It makes reasonable sense to me that Bombers and Assault SRS retain some sort of weaponry in their design to protect themselves from missiles, other similar interception weaponry, or SRS they typically encounter.  Highly unlikely to be effective, but even a long shot is better than none, I don't disapprove of it and the assigned PD values are more to fit in with the space opera theme to me than anything else.

I suppose I didn't really need to respond, but I did ask for an explanation which you gave, and thank you for that Hive.

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There's no reason any SRS would have a PD value at that point, to be honest, since if Interceptors are at 1 any given token would have PD equal to its wing count, you could just reference that number instead. It would still work the same way for protecting a parent ship from boarding and fighting other SRS, though.  Again, this is all just conjecture on my part. Any given system that works and is fun to use is fair game- I'm just operating under the idea that something called a Fighter would be geared to fight other SRS, and... What exactly would an Interceptor be Intercepting, then? Torps seems like a natural assumption- after all, any given ship could probably target something moving slow enough that a person could safely be on board, but it probably takes special equipment to deal with something that can he fored without that constraint. Ergo, SRS and boarding assaults are fair game for any given SRS to shoot at, torps and ARTs would need special gear.

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I think that takes a dangerous mix of both realistic and space opera assumptions into play as to what can or cannot reasonably engage a target.  Truly slow moving torpedoes would be worthless as a weapon system, and the real value of an Interceptor is how the space craft is built for speed in my mind.  In all the space craft simulation games I've played Interceptors are showcased as incredibly fast and agile ships who often end up rapidly zooming across open space to stop torpedoes, dog fight off bombers, assault craft, other interceptors, in a rapid succession of rinse and repeat over the course of a scenario.  They don't carry significantly more dangerous armament than fighters, and definitely don't carry heavy enough armament to seriously threaten capital ships.  Their role is to rapidly engage and deny enemy assets from destroying or damaging their own fleet assets unhindered.

Fighters handle in a way that they will never be capable of this same feat which Interceptors do on a regular basis, they can blast away Interceptors at reasonable risk, yet aren't capable of chasing them down and must often fight on the Interceptor's terms.  Additionally Fighters usually carry some form of weapon system that even Capital ships don't want to be on the receiving end of.  This is something of a lore or theme tangent and not actual gameplay related, but since the game is more about creating a fun design to play out a space opera aesthetic, well this the interpretation I think of when considering the game's theme.

Perhaps to say this more simply, and hopefully straightforward, I think Fighters should be capable of dealing with anything, but not nearly as effective against Capital ships as Bombers.  Interceptors are equally good against small spacecraft as Fighters, and mainly are there to leverage that incredible speed to be in the right place, at the right time, all the time.  That's why they are labeled interceptors in my opinion.  Interceptors aren't the more powerful fighter, they are the fastest moving and reacting fighter on the field.

 

Well I've suggested a lot of things by now, I'm not saying everything should be done at once.  My personal favorite to try testing is the ammo bin coming up empty, disorder style roll.  Still, altering Fighters seems like it might work without altering Interceptors so that's something I'd consider as another possibility rather than something to do in addition to altering the Interceptors themselves.  That it might pay off and make Fighters relevant would be pleasing, but it's such a round about way to deal with Interceptors I wonder what the unintended side effects will be.  I'm personally not a fan of actually putting Interceptor PD value to 1, only possibly treating it as such in certain circumstances, but these solutions are not my first chosen solutions.

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Just a quick note from games today:  most of the other players brought different fleet builds from last time (despite being asked not to), so results are not directly comparable.  Across multiple games today, I saw Interceptors RTB 4-5x after intercepting (in 4 1200 point games).  Most players were weighing the odds and doing the math on incoming torpedo spread vs. available PD and trying to not use up their interceptors on attacks that had a reasonable chance of being resisted without them.  This is basically the exact sort of gameplay we wanted to encourage, where attacks that are probably ok when left to base PD/shields are let through the Interceptor screen while the Interceptors were still available for whatever the perceived biggest threat (and anti-SRS/boarding duties) each turn on demand.  We'll play with this setup a couple more times and see if the new behavioral pattern holds or if people start to work around the new system.  First impressions seem quite good, however. 

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And that was just with them RTB'ing after contributing PD? That's refreshing that something that simple would work that well. Did you apply that to other SRS types as well? The interesting thing is that may encourage multi-tokening, which thematically echoes what Dr_Vector was talking about with Interceptors reacting to threats everywhere rather than being a static defense as they are now. I'd be interested to see if that warrants other changes- for instance, allowing additional small token SRS so that Carriers can have multiple 3-wing 'Ceptor tokens without giving up Bombers, or opening up multiple SRS being launched.

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This testing round we only applied the rule to Interceptors, as we wanted to start with a single change, test it a couple of times at least, and then scale up or down depending on achieved results.  I suspect that results might be somewhat different the next time we play, as everyone was extremely cautious this time about not wanting to get caught out with no defenses against a huge strike.  I was, for example, able to get several torpedo strikes through from gunships and escort carriers from my new Omnidyne fleet that would normally never go anywhere, due to my Terran opponent not wanting to be naked when the Foundry opens up with 2xEscorts plus it's torpedoes and cyber torpedoes.  I also fielded the Interceptors from my Foundry as 2x2 instead of 1x4 for flexibility, I assume several of my usual opponents will shortly follow along after seeing how it worked with the new testing rules.

My game was actually not the best test of the new rules, as I decided to wager big on shunting in the Foundry, and got a perfect entry on turn 2, landing in a gas cloud and ripping his fleet apart from behind.  He was so disorganized trying to figure out how to not get shot in the rear from something that it was pretty much over halfway through the second turn.  I did, however, watch most of the Aquan/Dindrezi game.  While the Dindrezi player decided to bring no SRS at all, the Aquan still had quite a few.  Dindrezi torpedo fire was still largely ineffective in this game, as the small PD bumps from the multiple small SRS tokens was enough to tip the scales most of the time.  Interestingly, from a testing standpoint, I saw that the Aquan player had a mix of Fighters and Interceptors on the board instead of the usual all-Interceptor loadout; I think this is also an improvement in the game as there is now tension between smaller amounts of reliable PD vs. larger amounts that are possibly not available when needed.  I also watched part of Relthoza vs. Directorate (though I missed some as it was at the same time as my game).  This one was more interesting for testing as the Directorate player almost never takes torpedo hits from the Relthoza guy, as his usual loadout has 3xInterceptor from the Anarchist and 2xInterceptor and 6xFighters from the carrier (or sometimes 5x2 Interceptors from two mini-carrier Anarchists, depending on what he brings).  The carrier squad (with R&D cruisers) was still basically invulnerable to torps from natural PD+fighters, but he took several hits from T2 squads trying to hold back his major PD to protect his T1's from enemy T1 fire.  While the amount of damage received was fairly negligible in the overall battle, the fact that he took some at all was a change of pace.  The last game was Syndicate vs. RSN, a matchup I find hard to pull concrete conclusions from due to the different fleet philosphies.  Syndicate has no torps and RSN (at least the build used) has tons of spook that can actually sorta-reliably hit people even in the presence of mass PD spam.  I did note that the Syndicate guy was all-in on hoarding SRS covering fire for the spook cruisers, and took a few assorted hits from the other ships.  While this is a decent validation in one direction, I'm not sure to what extent fixation on spooks and zero torpedoes on one side skewed things.

I still need to talk to everyone about what they thought, but the reaction from everyone I did have a chance to talk to was generally positive.  As mentioned before, I have the suspicion that this round was probably the best that the testing rules will work.  Everyone was being very cautious about committing their Interceptors, which reinforced the concept of reigning them in.  I think that moving forwards, there will be some moves towards multi-token splits and some more aggression in using the resources that are available.  I don't really want to make a judgement call on if things are "fixed" or not until everyone fully adjusts and has a chance to try to "break" things again.  It will probably be a couple of weeks before we have a huge Sunday again like today.  A good chunk of the group is teachers, and we're all about to be hammered by back-to-school meetings and stuff.  I'm planning on either playing Omnidyne again or possibly Relthoza.  I had also thought about trying my Kedorians, but with only one torpedo-capable ship in the fleet there isn't much stress in deciding when to pile in the Interceptor PD.  If I can get someone to try a 1500 point game, I'll give them a shot since I can take multiple destroyer sections at that point.

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I really enjoy reading play testing feedback on changes, so thanks very much for that Paladin21.  I think it was a good idea to keep the changes as simple and singularly focused as possible to start.  It sounds like you're giving some good thought as to the whys and hows player meta is reacting and may change in future cases.  I'm curious how the multiple Interceptor Token meta will play out, as the Interceptor change chosen certainly does seem to encourage it.  The interplay between now smaller, reliable, but also potentially more dangerous Fighter PD coverage and single use, "discard," Interceptor PD coverage could end up with some interesting long term changes.  I've alluded to what I think are the more immediate and meta altering changes which I would expect in my previous posts.

That said, that's all speculation on my part, and again I loved hearing about the play tests.  I think Dindrenzi aren't one of the better torpedo tossing fleet, but it does make me wonder if even this kind of change can really improve more moderate torpedo based AD rolls outside of the late game turns.  Nice that Relthoza torpedoes did something in an environment where they normally don't produce an effect.  Also that it didn't significantly swing things back around enough to drastically alter player meta choices in fleet construction, deployment, and operations, well so far anyway.

Here's something I consider worth tracking, a general consensus is good, but I'd also consider the extremes in player opinion.  What was the most positive feedback, the most negative, these also help create a spectrum you can get a better overall analysis from as I see it.  The most common type of answer is good, but the extremes help create a range of judgements which can help understand the, "why," behind player reactions.  Well, this is only my opinion, but there it is and I am curious about any further results.  Very understandable about not being able to get many samples, and not very quickly either.  However, any report is better than none, and late is better than never, so I'll be looking forward to any further posts regardless of circumstances.

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I tired out Dr_Vector's idea of interceptors only having 1 big usage a turn then linked after. It was definitely a step in the right direction. It no longer felt like it was a mountain of PD that just couldn't be scaled. It was Directorate vs Ba'kash so both sides had a reasonable amount. It was certainly a lot better. Instead of simply staring at a battle carrier with 4 interceptors I can never hurt, I actually was able to. It still felt like the risk was worth it to run some t3s into the srs to thin them out, but even when it failed it was possible to deal damage, just not always. Obviously this was only 1 game, but I'm going to keep playing with it this way and see how it goes. Just for reference I'll post the basic lists run(to the best of my memory). 2 squadrons on each side had interceptors which isn't the highest amount.

Directorate

Dread no escorts

Battlecruisers (2)

Anarchist with 2 liquidators

Battlestation(admiral)

Heavy Cruisers (3)

Cruisers (champions 3)

Gunships (2)

Drones (4)

Light Frigates (6)

Frigates (4)

vs Ba'kash

Battle Carrier(admiral) with 3 Dindrenzi escorts

Battle carrier no escorts

Syndicate Battleship with 2 frigates

Heavy Cruisers (3)

Heavy Cruisers (3)

Cruisers (3)

Frigates (5)

Frigates (5)

Frigates (5)

Frigates (5)

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I think Hive did a better job in clarifying my position than I would have; thank you.

As for this side bar discussion, game mechanics govern how you play the game, while game stats govern the interactions within these mechanics.  Stats basically add nuance to mechanics, but are not mechanics by themselves.

Basically, there is an identified game issue with Interceptors.  There are a few basic ways to address this:

1) Add new game mechanics

2) Adjust game stats

3) Rewrite the mechanics governing how this game element is utilized

This is list in the order of easiest to hardest.  They can all produce a viable solution, and they all change how people play the game.  I feel that SRS Tokens are a sub-mechanic to Firestorm Armada, as the game is fully functional with their complete removal.  Thus, I feel the best solution is to re-evaluate SRS Mechanics holistically, and fix the Interceptor issue  in the process.  This is the hardest method, though.

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Interesting, I imagined that effectively reducing Interceptor PD value to 1 would also immediately produce noticeable results.  Thank you for that report Misterbucket, it's really more valuable for the thread than my rambling has been.  Although, if you can remember I think it would be good to include the SRS wings and Tokens taken in your fleet lists; I'm assuming from your message the Ba'Kash player took a four wing Interceptor Token again.  Also, kudos on putting a fleet list up in the first place.  I might just use some proxy ships and play solitaire FSA to build my own sample games and contribute, but I'm not sure how far my own biases and lack of different player perspective will skew those results.  I've only been able to play a few games of FSA thus far with other players, most of my base of player responses on Firestorm Armada have come from other games which I haven't participated in.

 

 

Also, Ryjak, I thoroughly and vehemently disagree with that separation of, "game mechanics and game statistics."  I believe that interpretation and distinction is inherently flawed and adds nothing but blinders to a person's ability to engage in effective design and does not provide a constructive framework for analysis.  To retread my ground, I see game mechanics as not merely the framework you've built, but also how that framework interacts once in motion.  The end results of any action you can take is the output of game mechanics and everything which affected that output is inherently a part of said game mechanics.  To use an example, your definition allows using FSA Interceptors with a PD value of 0 claiming the statistics have changed but the mechanics have not been altered.  This is also confusing because your statement asserts game mechanics are unaltered, but agrees they been affected and any changes must not be part of game mechanics, but something else we shall call game statistics instead.  As I see it, analysis using your statement can only agree, because you have set a loophole forcing it to agree.

I state this is patently false and assert, you have altered a smaller framework within game mechanics rather than introducing an entire new set of rules or replacing a set of rules, but the results are the same. If rewriting rules to remove the Interceptor's currently written ability to provide PD coverage and reducing Interceptor PD values to 0 produce the same end state, how can you tell me that you have altered the game mechanics in one instance and not altered it in another?  If I look for a quick and dirty definition of game mechanics I can pull from Wikipedia (hesitantly), "Game mechanics are constructs of rules or methods designed for interaction with the game state, thus providing gameplay."

Now I'll immediately agree that this is not a definitive source, yet who is such an authority that their interpretation has unquestionably written a definition of game mechanics everyone will point to as the best choice?  Back on topic, while rules clearly feature in that phrasing, as I imagine they would in practically anyone's definition; I challenge you to write a truly complete definition of game mechanics without something like thus, "methods designed for interaction with the game state."  Unfortunately vague, but games as a whole are greatly varied and this, "umbrella," statement effectively attempts to broadly cover anything which determines the change from a game's current state into the next game state.  To provide an example, everything from the set-up to each individual move and why that move can or should be made in the card game of Solitaire is part of it's mechanics.

How does one confidently state game mechanics are unaltered when no Jacks are dealt when constructing the opening game state of Solitaire?  If all the cards belong to the same suite?  If all the card are now the ten of hearts?  If now the Aces are any value of card you wish them to be?  Which of these have only altered the game statistics, but not the mechanics and vice versa?  I reiterate my stance, it is pointless to try and create competing distinctions of game statistics and game mechanics, and at best what you have done is try to create a subset definition of another definition.

If you truly believe that game mechanics and game statistics can be defined in such clear terms so that no overlap occurs, providing these entities distinct and separate identities, please provide me with that explanation.  If you cannot, I am intrigued by this effective loophole you have created allowing statistics to exist as a separate entity which interacts with game mechanics, yet remains wholly separate from it at the same time.  I find it impossible to believe any such assertation that reads to me, "game statistics are elements of a game which are not part of its mechanics, but affect its mechanics."  If you can phrase your definition in a way that either cannot be interpreted this way, or provide the background concluding in the logic of this statement, I will begin reconsidering my position.

 

 

Personally I also wonder if there is some sort of internal bias going on here, because your statement also quite effectively courts this interpretation, "game statistics are of a higher order than game mechanics, they are different and separate from game mechanics and their existence directly influences game mechanics, but game statistics are otherwise unrelated and cannot be considered a part of game mechanics."  I'm sorry if this is not an interpretation you desire, but I'll need you to clearly show how this cannot be drawn from what you've stated thus far.

 

Edit:  Bah!  Spelling, grammar, always eluding my eyes until later.

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Wow, ok...  Your post reads like trolling, as it contains a lot of attacks, but all your posts are long and analytical, so I'll give this a shot.

Making a distinction between game mechanics and game statistics is merely a tool.  If you don't find the tool useful, don't use it.

For example, a game of solitaire uses a deck of 52 cards, each having two stats: suit & value.  The mechanics of solitaire tell you how these two values matter.  You can play solitaire where the cards only have values, where suits do not matter.  This requires a slight adjustment to rules, but the main mechanics for solitaire gameplay remains the same, while also highlighting how value is a more important stat within the rules than suits.  I don't think Solitare mechanics allows for a functional game if you play where only suits matter.

Also, notice how these changes do not zero out either stat, but simply set them all to an identical number; basically 1.  Setting a stat to 0 effect will always have a different impact, but fundamentally does not change mechanics.

So, mechanically, an Interceptor Token with 0 PD still does the same thing.  It still launches when the parent carrier Activates, it still moves the same, it still makes Intercept moves.  But with 0 PD, it completely looses the stat that allows for it to interact with and impact other game elements.  A better example would be to set the Token's PD to 1, regardless of the number of Wings, as this allows for the smallest possible stat value  with actual game interaction.

In fact, this would be a good way to observe the usefulness of Interceptors.  I wonder if a 6-Wing Interceptor Token which always generates 1 PD would still be considered viable, despite costing 30 points?  It would still have game impact; taking two 3-Wing Interceptor Tokens, each with one PD, from one Squadron, would probably be viable in many fleet builds.

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The Bakash player ran 6 bombers and 3 interceptors on his admiral, 6 bombers on his second battle carrier and 4 interceptors on his syndicate battleship. I ran 3 interceptors on my anarchist and 3 more on my battlestation. I had no bombers. It was a very low amount for me, but I had a bunch of new models I really wanted to try, so it altered my list quite a bit. We also don't typically play that large a fleet size, but wanted to have a big game. 

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Maybe a slight adjustment in both mechanics, and statistics, in that SRS PD values remain the same, (except interceptors, which drop to one) but than SRS are only allowed to link their PD, except for interceptors, which can combine.   This allows the game to be played as it has, but decreases the cover provided by SRS (without completely nerfing them)  a token of 6 interceptors provides 6 PD to all ships within 6 inches, whereas a token of 6 bombers would only provide 3 PD within 4 inches, and if the tokens drop to 5 wings the interceptors provide 5 PD, wheras the bombers would only supply 2.      This would require minimal adjustment, would encourage larger interceptor tokens to provide their now common level of coverage, and would keep more offensive tokens, from playing as much of a defensive roll,

(in order to keep dogfights currently balanced, perhaps another rule would need to be added, such as interceptors still having 2 PD in dogfights, or giving them an even higher to hit modifier.)

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Polaris, why alter the Statistics at all if you can simply change the Mechanic that SRS Tokens Link during Torpedo Point Defense with Models within range rather than Combine?  This changes how SRS tokens interact with Torpedo Defense (effectively cutting the added PD in half) while making no changes any other aspects of SRS Tokens, most importantly how they interact with each other.

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That's

3 hours ago, Polaris said:

  a token of 6 interceptors provides 6 PD to all ships within 6 inches, whereas a token of 6 bombers would only provide 3 PD within 4 inches, and if the tokens drop to 5 wings the interceptors provide 5 PD, wheras the bombers would only supply 2

Except the rules don't work like that, you have the 1 minimum contribution in linking rule, so any SRS token is going to provide linked PD equal to it's wing-count/rating.

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The PD link rule says to contribute a minimum of 1 per model.  As SRS are explicitly not a model, there's no basis to decide if this applies to them at all (by a strict reading they could contribute zero in the right circumstance).  I suspect it's never been defined as they were designed around combined pools and this hypothetical situation couldn't actually happen in the game rules. This is one consideration we had when discussing different options for the SRS PD.  Any attempt to fix this would be yet another judgement call on an undefined value, and we were trying to be as clean as possible in our testing approach.

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Ryjak, If all you want to do is agree to disagree, that's fine; but I'm running out of ways to restate my position more clearly if what you want is to engage in a dialogue about game design.  Also I accept that changing a numeric value does not rewrite rules, nor invalidate existing interactions between game entities as already written.  If this is in doubt, let that be cleared up right now.  I do not see changing a specific value as an alteration to the rule set of a game.

Solitaire uses four suites of card, a linear incremental set of values within each suite, and a specific total number of cards evenly split among mirrored sets between all suites.  Statistical and game analysis includes not merely the assigned suite and value of the cards in Solitaire, but also the number and sets of cards, "in play."  The design is not merely how to set up Solitaire, the cards which can be observed, and how the game state can be adjusted - the actions the player can take; but also involves the clear definition of the roles of all the representations, the actors, which are a part of the design.  There is an intent behind design which defines why something has a numeric value and delivers meaning and purpose through these elements.  Which is, hopefully, observed when a player engages the game following the allowed actions.

You imply this perspective is a tool and fairly point out that it does not need to be utilized, but I do not see the possible purpose distinction of game statistic from game mechanic even serves.  If it is a tool, why does it exist and what does it do for me?  Much like a 0 PD Interceptor Token, certainly you could still apply FSA rules to it and employ it.  To what possible purpose would this serve, what design intent is there behind this thing?  If the end result is making Interceptors irrelevant, removing their rule functionality and changing the PD value to 0 both serve the same intent with different actions.

Replace every suite of card in Solitaire with four mirrored suites of clubs, the game rules still apply, but how the game plays out has now dramatically shifted from a typical game of Solitaire.  The player's experience is altered, and the player's meta decisions, the values they place on possible actions and outcomes will change.  The course of the game from start to finish will be noticeably different, and what is the point of denying this as a change in the game design?  You've marked this line in the sand, and I can't help but find no reason given for it to be there.  My examples are just tools, and I suppose they must be horrible ones, I'm using to talk about intent and I feel they've failed in this purpose.  Ryjak, I don't know a more plain way to state my most fundamental issue right now than this:  what I've wanted to read this entire time is why do you use this distinction between game mechanics and statistics, what purpose does it serve?

 

Lastly, you state that I have made personal attacks on other forum members?  I'm not sure how to respond to this allegation, but if you would point out the offending instances I would appreciate it.

 

On the topic of SRS and linked fire rules, I feel this would be a serious problem which would be best to avoid entirely.  It is generally accepted to follow a game's design by using Rules as Written; I think this is because personal bias and interpretation of designer intent can result in unintended outcomes, altering the game's mechanics beyond the intended experience.  SRS have no rules concerning linked die roll calculations, since they are written with the express intent of strictly using combined die rolls calculations.  Basing introduced or altered rules on linked die roll calculations is going to inherently be problematic as FSA has no rules covering this possibility, this was was not supposed to be possible for SRS in the game design.  SRS PD values are already so low that as Commodore Jones pointed out there isn't a reasonable intent re-interpretation of the rules where any value less than 1 PD per wing will be added; unless the value is zero or even further exceptions to the rules are made.

This is a rather classic example problem which changing written rules can encounter when trying to alter game design and balance.  Even direct and straightforward changes need to be thought through carefully with a clear understanding of the role and interactions an element has in the game's design.  Otherwise the game's internal logic will end up with unexpected gaps, and the domino effect can kick off.  Simple changes are not necessarily easy ones, and I think this dialogue about linked and combined calculations is a prime textbook example.  Situations where player conflict is likely to arise because intent no longer matches written rules are, in my opinion, best avoided unless no other option presents itself.

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