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Toxic_Rat

Squadron Activation

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It is definitely worth playtesting. I'll have to see if I can get together with my buddy for some FSA testing.

As for the end of turn back to back activation, that's not a very common occurrence.  The stars need to align in a way that you want to do it and you also had the last activation on a turn and activated the unit last and decide to activate it first the next turn.

As for what the "randomness" of the bag of chits represents, many things and nothing. Kinda like how alternating activations represents the same.

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Im not sold on random activation but that means I definitely need to playtest it! I should be able to organise a game tomorrow but it could be a small <800pt game due to time and work fatigue. I play against a Relthoza player most of the time, and if any fleet could make deadly use of subsequent activations its the Relthoza

 

Edit: I'm also going to give us both a TAC to force an activation to either side, just to round things out 

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15 hours ago, Stoobert said:

Given equal number player activations he who activated last on Turn 2 and first on Turn 3 could activate the same squad twice sequentially, with such devastating results that the game can be decided.  This doesn’t feel fair to me (or my opponent that I may have just obliterated) and I think something should be done about it, hence my prior suggestion.

This is probably something that should be looked at.  We don't have enough data to know whether random-draw or alternating is the best choice, but it's easy enough to stipulate that a squadron can't activate "twice in a row" so to speak, across turns.  I know that for Relthoza, I look to do this when I can, dropping the cloak as the ending activation, and hoping to be able to raise them by going first next turn.  So yeah, it can be frustrating to deal with that.

You guys have homework for this weekend.  Get in a game with random-draw and post your results.  Hop to it.  :) 

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6 hours ago, Ryjak said:

Do want to win because:

A] I outplayed my opponent

B] I got lucky with my Activation Draw

Well put.   And conversely, why did I lose?  Either because:

A} I made poor choices

B} I got unlucky

This is a game design concept called “locus of control”.  Every game has a balance... heck, even in chess one of you goes first at random.  When/if I make a FSA poll this preference will be one of the questions.  I prefer more of “A”, even when I lose. :) 

I think luck is an essential part of FSA, representing the unpredictability of crew and machines, and of space itself... to be conquered  with skill and knowledge.   Here’s the rub: I feel FSA is far too long, expensive, complex and takes itself too seriously to place the locus far out of my own control.  Some luck evens out over the game, but activation sequence is too critical to be totally luck-based, IMHO.  

If you just want to roll some dice and have a laugh at whatever happens to your spaceships, G.O.B.S. is a good way to spend an hour or two.   FSA represents a greater investment and should be more thoughtful. 

But still, I will playtest random initiative tomorrow, and post the opinions of my opponent.  

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There’s a difference between luck and variability.  If a given shot has a 33% chance to succeed, I can mitigate the variability by taking 3 shots.  Statistically,  I should land at least one hit.  I’m unlucky if that 1/27 chance turns up and I miss all three shots.

Firestorm Armada has a lot of variability in the shooting/damage resolution mechanics, and basically three outcomes to any attack.  It doesn’t really have options to try to get a lucky result, which is why there is a strong locus of control for each player. 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locus_of_control

The only time I feel the game breaks this feeling of player agency in the game’s outcome is during a Reactor Breach Critical Hit.  That lucky result has won/lost games for me, and I don’t like being on either side.

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@Ryjak & @Stoobert, you guys make good points.  For a casual game, I don't think I would mind the random-draw method.  But if we are looking for a game to have more of a convention/tournament presence, then alternating is the way to go. 

I think that random-draw would work fine if the game had 10+ rounds.  Then, the randomness would tend to even out in a single game.  With the few rounds FSA currently plays, each round is too important, and it's real easy to fall behind.  

Still, I look forward to others experiences with it.  Might be a good 'optional' rule to include in an appendix.

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If we test random draw and decide that while we like it, but that it is not suitable for convention/ tournament play. I agree with  @Toxic_Rat that it might be a good optional rule.

Lets be honest here, not everyone plays in conventions or tournaments. Some of us just want to get together with friends and have fun, and do not care about how much luck is in a game. 

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I did a playtest this today, via drawing tokens from a bag.  If you drew your color, you got to activate any squadron of your choice.   My opponent found this mechanic similar to Bolt Action, had mixed feelings, and suggested it could be an optional rule for FSA but not a standard rule.   Personally, I didn't like it.  Not only was it time consuming it felt unfair to activate twice in a row.

But at an aside, and to @Toxic_Rat's point above, my playtest buddy also identified (wisely I think) the need needs of two types of active gamer: A] those who play frequently with an active local 'scene' who need set of core rules for balanced and efficient organized play.  B] those who play occasionally with a buddy, who want a campaign system and/or to tinker with a set of optional rules

I was initially thinking that FSA needs 'basic rules' and then to graduate to 'advanced rules', but we run the risks of the basic rules being boring or overly simplistic or tutorial-like.  

But hearing his comments today I think a better goal is "core rules" (for player A)  and "optional rules" (for player B ) and 'campaign'/legacy play like Frostgrave.   Core rules are far from boring: they have a compelling multi-dimensional random setup: mission & objective & deployment ( like Malifaux) and rules that are streamlined and balanced.   "Optional rules" and campaigns are for use in a 2-person-meta (player B): add spice to home games, motivate successive casual games, or to be sprinkled in occasionally for scenarios in a tournaments under supervision.

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Well, I wasn't able to get a game in with my friend. So I did a solo play test. It was a small game with only three squadrons a side. Double activations only occurred twice, both in favor of the losing side. Personal thoughts. I really didn't find it all that time consuming, but thats just me. My verdict. Not bad, just different. As an optional rule? It could work. But I think that Alternating activation will work with some tweaks.

21 hours ago, Stoobert said:

B] those who play occasionally with a buddy, who want a campaign system and/or to tinker with a set of optional rules

I fit in that category! I really like the idea of having a set of optional and campaign rules.

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QFT:

23 hours ago, Stoobert said:

two types of active gamer: A] those who play frequently with an active local 'scene' who need set of core rules for balanced and efficient organized play.  B] those who play occasionally with a buddy, who want a campaign system and/or to tinker with a set of optional rules

 

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In design, it really important to identify the target customer and what they want, and to make that your core business. This forms your business model.

These two disparate customer groups cannot be equally satisfied with the same game, so which is more important?

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I tend to agree that a single game can have multiple markets.   "Ticket to Ride" is one of the most popular board games out there, and is fun for Friday night with the family yet also has huge tournaments.  X-wing or 40k would be examples of minis games.  My take is that effective and popular tournament games are often also enjoyable casual games, but as @steve_990 said, not necessarily the other way around.  I've never seen a tournament of "Flat Top". 

I think of the above examples 40k is most relevant.  You've got a scattered player base with FSA who have some models in the closet, just like 40k.  It should be straightforward to dust them off and play a trial run of the new rules when they come out.   Eighth edition did a great job of revitalizing the casual player base because never before have the rules been more streamlined.  Reviews are very positive and my local community has surged.  I frequently see a couple buddies playing a casual game at my local FLGS.   Yet, while I would never again play in a 40k tournament, our local store hosted one last week with around 50 players.

Once the initial game is played and someone says "yah that was cool" they can go in one OR BOTH player directions:

1. a person could repeatedly play with their buddy but they will need to 'spice it up', with campaigns and variety.  They may want play 1800pt mega battle with all sorts of optional rules, a campaign, and stay up to 2am.

2. Or a person could join the local regular group of gamers (or play in a league or tournament) if they are near a large market, and play a compelling game for 2 hours on a Wed night, or 3 games on a Saturday.  This is where semi-random scenario generation (a la Malifaux) offer variety.

Either way, it's useful if the gameplay is fair and the rules succinct, and hopefully results in purchasing more models.  ;-)

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