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Captaincandle

Why Dystpopian Wars is heading for sales failure

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Hey guys,

I love that DW has been revived, but I see some huge mistakes made during development that will mean resistance to taking up the game by new players, and a lack of model sales for new content because of serious holes in the rules. Given the models are where the money comes in for the company, that one in particular is a huge problem.

TL;DR
Wording needs to be tighter and more consistent. Wording is important. Rules have inconsistencies and outright conflicts which make interpretation difficult (I’m looking at you  generator wording now directly conflicting with itself. Intent is obvious, but in a game, you NEED to have as clear wording as possible for rules, otherwise players simply state “well it says this so that’s how we play it”). Lack of good standards within the game leave players with few tools to expand/contract games and have a level playing ground with pick-up games. If you’re using fleet composition to sell models, players just won’t play; Fix the game design.

OK, for those actually interested in the game getting better, I’ve identified a few things that needs looking into (From my own experiences, obviously), and I’ll go through them below. Wall of text incoming! I’ve organised these three points in order of sequence (to make subsequent points make sense) not order of importance. Importance would be point 2, point 1, then point 3.

1) OK, wording needs shoring up (pun intended) big time. Currently, units hiding behind an underwater obstacle cannot be shot at if you cannot draw LoS, but for some if you can draw LoS, that iceberg doesn't stop your torp (yup, if you're target is small, that obstacle blocks you but if you aren’t, torpedoes are magic!). The wording for Generators continues to be contradictory (a unit may only replace one gun in total, but all models must replace… wtf is going on there? Don’t insinuate meaning, be clear). These kinds of things sound small, but again, if you have all the other table-top games to pick from, and you read this and go “well, I don’t really know how this works or that works, I’m not bothering to try it because they clearly can’t do a good job”. This is not an attack on the devs, this stuff is hard, but I expect better and I think working on this will go strides to improving the game, limiting confusion, and integrating new players more easily. As an example, I mean, Crown got a sub that has a hull saw that literally cannot ram anything that isn’t a submerged unit… Why? Why is this in the game? Its main weapon is a ram it basically can’t use, and a speed so slow it will never get into position before being blown away. What nations is so brain dead it would waste resources building something like that? And there are others like this, this is just an obvious one that jumps out at me as having no thought behind it at all.

2) OK, this one will be long because it is involved. Couple of things here need to be addressed but it circles around balance, style of game and intent. Firstly, I want to say, in general, awesome work with simplification of core rules. I think that was thrown out the window recently, but the early work was solid and well thought out. However, I think serious issues, especially as release goes on, were introduced through the over-simplification of some elements, and I think the devs are starting to (either consciously or unconsciously) see it as well. Starting with weapons, this is a huge problem. With no deviation between ships weapons, there are VERY clear winners in each category (mass1, mass2, mass3, etc) for what is a great ship in the ORBAT, and what isn’t. I think this primarily stems from a lack of options available to rules writers to give flavour and to balance. This was a huge mistake and I think it needs addressing now. It also means all ships must be offensive ships in some way, so support ships that aren’t offensive, are bad choices, end of story. I think the one exception is the Hypatia, (because sustained just means re-roll card all game) given its high offensive output and ability to spread obscured to nearby ships.

Leading on from this, generators. Because the game is now highly aggressive, range band 3 is extremely deadly, and with weapons being overwhelming, virtually all generators are poor and not worth sacrificing offensive power. Shield generators (for example) were intended (in the old game, and I don’t necessarily want this replicated necessarily, just for context) to give protection as you close. Because MOST weapons were poor at long ranges, the shield generator was meaningful to stop that chipping damage as you closed. Now it is the biggest waste of points ever. If you want defence, always go shroud. It stops explosions, means devastating only does 2 damage, and generally makes your free 2 vp Battleship might not cede those points to the enemy. Some custom generators are decent, and they are meaningful, but the core ones are awful. I think this stems from extreme offence, and removes meaningful choice from players (look at my point above and hopefully dots are starting to join). Who wants +2 speed, or whatever nonsense the magnetic generator is doing with SRS (seriously, SRS are bad…)? All of these are trumped by shroud, because obscured is the single best defensive measure (outside of possibly the Empire Generator) so they aren’t options worth considering. I think that is poor, and stems primarily from a highly offensive game that leaves no room for defensive or utility choices. Aggressive game is fine, but it needs balance if you want other utility. If the players and devs can barely see the difference in factions that’s a huge problem, and I’ve seen the questions pop up in the forums. You can simplify rules and make factions have depth and difference between each other.
 

This finally leads to ship design. One reason the old game of naval warfare was so successful is ship classes actually meant something, and had a head nod (not much, but enough) to historical designs, meaning designing ships within class intention was possible in the game, and players had some idea about why this smaller thing called a destroyer wasn’t as powerful as this big thing called a battleship. Because of simplification, this is not a concept in the current edition, and that hurts dev flexibility, player choice and game fun. Battleships, with one or two exceptions, are nothing short of pathetic for example. Because of the need for protection, they have two guns, despite having twice the deck space of a cruiser. So, why take it? A cruiser squadron is a better investment in every way. Oh right, no flexibility to adjust guns, can’t play with ranges (same reason) and you HAVE to take one. I can see the devs kinda realised what was going on, and the ORBATS are getting super restrictive with how many different kinds of units a player will take in a battlefleet. That is a SERIOUS indicator your game design is not working, and it needs addressing. You won’t sell different ships if people don’t want to take them, it’s as simple as that. If you want to compete, and make cash, you need to make model variety important, or stop pretending the chaff ships are worth it and don’t spend dev time making them. Potentially devs can get around this with ship packs, and I won’t say that won’t work, but your players will quickly realise what you’re doing and likely won’t enjoy that feeling.

This was a long section, but it highlights some really entrenched problems. I think it is a good time to fix them, both in approach and actual numbers, but it needs attention now, not later.

3) Finally, comp stuff. Now, this might seem like a section for people who go to tournaments, but it isn’t. This is important for all players. You can make them optional if you wish, but if you want new blood (i.e. more sales because old players will hang onto old models if possible), these need to exist. Standards help players unfamiliar with each other have agreed systems and baselines to work with when setting up a game, and give players an insight into how the game is balanced and what changes to those standards might result in. That’s not to say players can’t do what they want, but it means doing whatever you want isn’t the standard set. First off, terrain. How much terrain is expected to interact with the game and make all ORBAT choices as meaningful as possible (yup, referring to point 2 again). Is the game balanced to no terrain? If so, why is terrain included? I assume the intention is to have some (it makes tactics more involved which is good for player creativity and engagement), and if so, how much? It doesn’t need to be specific, but something like “20%-30% of terrain is encouraged for standard games” is a good line to set the expectation, but not enforce it (just an arbitrary number range I made up). What is the standard game size for 4x4? Is it 4000 points? If so, do you think it’s fun half of a players list won’t see the game? If not, how do players get around that? You could say” “duh, play on a 6x6”, but does that have some impact on ranges for example (I see Antarctica suffering heavily on a longer-range map like that)? Will close range units become useless and therefore never taken? Again, players can ignore this, but these core ideas are extremely important not just for players navigating unfamiliar groups, but also as a core game design baseline for how things work and are expected to work. There is no game that solves 100% of problems, and that’s why good games have these rules, because players know what the expectation is, and where stuff stops working, or might start getting a bit wonky. This section could be done last, but it needs to be done.

OK, wall of text over. I’m super happy this game got resurrected. The original dev team (Spartan) understood real life naval warfare enough that it permeated the game in aesthetics and design, and I think that really brought players in (it certainly did for me who never even thought naval gameplay could be fun). They had serious issues with complex rules but the new guys correctly identified that and tackled it! Please don’t throw away non-rules concepts that gave the game life and depth, such as class roles, design roles, etc. These don’t have to be Historical either, they just have to make sense, and be intuitive enough to navigate! I want to see the current devs grow fat off a great game, and players loving the many things they can do with a fleet. Anyone reading this far, discuss and actually think on it! I think if this game is to succeed as a game, these points need to be addressed and have meaningful, not token, action given to them. Core problems proliferate through games with poor design and players realise it unconsciously or not. If discussion remains civil and not “oh, you just do this and magic happens!”) maybe the community can rally around and work this out. With Covid still looming the better the game is, the more likely it succeeds financially.

I’d love to hear ideas, ponderings and objections, but make sure we are attacking ideas, not each other. The purpose of this post is not to hate, or generate friction, but instead to generate thought and discussion.

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First of all, I did not play a game of DW3.0 yet, so I can't tell what it feels like. But reading the rules and ORBATS, I do not see great differences between the factions and their available weaponry and shooting seems to be much more deadly than in older editions of the game. But this is just a concern I have from reading the rules...

What I don't understand in your remarks is the ramming and the torpedo shooting thing. Why can't the subs ram a normal ship (s. "Ramming" on p.29)? And how can you shoot your torpedoes over land (s. p.34 "Land:")?

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Making me actually answer questions, how could you!!!! :lol: Jokes aside, The bit you are looking for is second paragraph, first sentence. "A submerged unit, ground unit, or air unit can only ram another unit with the same trait". So, Subs, being submerged, cannot ram a unit that isn't also submerged. So the Crown sub with that lovely hull saw cannot ram a surface vessel, unless it also has the submerged trait (which virtually none have unless for some reason you are insane and decided to use wavelurker as Antarticans). It makes it an extraordinarily expensive (80 points!!!) sub cruiser that fires a lackluster torp (compared to other dice pools in this point/mass range). It hits that point I made about clear winners and losers in each category/mass I made above(not that ramming surface vessels will make it good, it will get obliterated waaaaaay before it hits the enemy... The movement is so fast and the game so deadly that ramming is a thing you should never try to do, only if it happens to line up by some miracle, and the sub is insanely slow to boot). 

Torps, OK, so basically, the Torpedo rule does not in any way restrict firing through obstacles that you can draw line of site over. You can have a obstacle that is mass 1, and you are shooting at a mass 2 or larger target, which means there is something between you, but you can draw line of site to the initial target. Same lack of restriction under the submerged weapon trait (both page 37). So, you defer to the targeting rule. If you can draw line of site to your target, you can shoot it (minus things like air units in this case, but let's assume I am only talking about fleet combat in this instance). Because you are using line of site rules, regardless of what the obstacle is (like a submerged wreck or iceberg, both of which occupy the area a torpedo will travel through), the only limiting factor for firing a torpedo is LoS, not what is in the way, so a small vessel hiding behind a wreck can't be hit, but the battleship being behind the same thing can. To me it doesn't make a lot of sense, but perhaps I am nit-picking here?

Edit: I just noticed I used the word land in my initial post when I meant obstacle. I'll amend, but I meant to say obstacle, my apologies. I hope the new wording is more clear. If still confused, lemme know and I will think of a new way to say it.

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An example of a "clear winner" from the Russian ORBAT is the Mobile Stronghold. It initially doesn't look that great, but oh is it insane. You can make it arrive first turn for some minor drawbacks, but don't worry, you will do so much with it that 1 damage, 1 disorder level and a reactor leak are nothing (especially since with 7 dice to repair, those last two are likely to be gone after the turn it appears). Because a single ship can be in two firing arcs at once, you can bring to bear a truly horrendous amount of firepower (it has broadsides on every fire arc... remember this because re-rolls and 17 dice aiming for explosions will do so many bad things to whatever it hits, and you can come on anywhere provided you are 3" or more from any terrain piece. You'll sink a BB for the free 2vp and a cruiser or two, and possibly even ram another ship if you have the space and can end in the right arcs. Compared to any other capital, it's just an auto-include and no two-ways about it, and I dislike that there is no meaningful choice. It also happens to be one of the three Capital units I think are actually not dragging you down, and one of those three is actually a cruiser squadron, not a BB... 

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I believe the crown submarine can ram surface vessels. If you read the second sentence of the trait rules on page 1 and the ram rules on pg 29.

My understanding is everything is a surface vessel except if it has  the Trait "Submerged/Aerial/Ground/Skimming".

Edited by T437

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A Submerged Unit, Ground Unit or Aerial Unit can only Ram another Unit that shares the same Trait. The only exception to this are Submerged Units, that can Ram any Unit except Aerial and Ground Units. (p.29 of the rule book)

I think the rules are pretty clear. As a submerged unit I can ram any model without the Aerial or Ground Unit trait. This should include  most of the ships.

 

Concerning obstacles and torpedoes: I think the LOS rules make it possible to hide small models behind large obstacles, but do not allow to hide big models behind small obstacles. In some circumstances, they make the large models harder to hit (centre point). Since DW is a game, some abstraction is necessary - but to me it seems consistent in it's effect. I must admit, looking up the rules for shooting torps through intervening things, LOS is not the first place to have a look at (at least to me).

 

Concerning the Murmansk: It costs a lot of points and therefore is likely to be your flagship. Deploying it first round will do 1 damage to it, and due to it's reserve status it will be one of the last models activating in the turn. Throwing it to the front with Armour 6 and 7 Hullpoints left might be a bit risky - but why not.

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I have to concede the submerged point (thanks to both T437 and Phant Mastik for picking up my error). I seem to have read it quite a few times and managed to not put those two things together so that is an error on my end. Thanks for pointing out my mistake, because I want to get these things right, and I prefer to have the correct information :D. I have many examples to draw from so instead I will use the example of generators. Here, the intent, to me, is extremely clear. What the designers want you to do, is if you take a generator, all models in the unit must take one, and it must be the same. 

"The Unit may replace a single Heavy Gun Battery weapon with one of the following Generators. If one Model replaces a weapon, then all Models in the Unit must replace the same Heavy Gun Battery with the same Generator. The cost is per Model. " (this is taken from the Empire Yamaguchi Attack Cruisers, but you will find the same wording, as far as I can tell, everywhere except the Russians who have slightly different wording but the same result.  Khatanga Cryo Assault Cruiser: "The Unit may replace a single Heavy Gun Battery weapon with one of the following Generators. Each Model in the Unit must replace the same Heavy Gun Battery with the same Generator. Each Model in the Unit must take the same Generator. The points cost indicated is per Model." Slightly different but virtually the same. Now, as I mentioned, the intent here, to me, is very clear. What is supposed to be happening is each model may take a single generator by replacing a single heavy gun battery. However, at the beginning of the sentence, the rule has written "the UNIT may replace one heavy gun battery...", rather than "Each MODEL in the UNIT may replace...". According to page 1 of the rules, Model is a single model on the board, and units usually consist of single models, but sometimes consist of multiple models, and references to unit apply to the whole unit only, not a specific model in the unit. That's very explicit. So, the wording above has a paradoxical set of circumstances, and two unfamiliar players could have read it, one seeing intent, one supporting the wording as it is, and come to completely different expectations of the rule (and thus, how effective a unit actually is based on performance). 

Now, again, there is quite a lot of this filtered through the rules (mostly in ORBATS now that I think of it), and this wording is important. How does a player resolve two things that are completely contradictory, where you cannot defer to ORBAT as recommended by the developers because both problems are in the ORBAT rule, not a disagreement between ORBAT and Base Rules. I mean, is it saying you can only replace one in total, as written? If so, is the extra bit trying to suggest something the player doesn't understand or was the first bit a written mistake? I'm not confused on what they want, but I can see how it could be a problem. I also don't want to quickfire rules wording issues constantly because there are many and while I can discuss them (and I'm going to be wrong on some as above), my deeper concern is the lack of attention to how these rules interact when they are created.

On the Murmansk, the things you mentioned are advantages. So, the key things I've identified tactically in the game are activations and who to alpha-strike. If you have more activations than your opponent, your setup and activations can force them to blow up the unit you want in the first turn (I haven't actually played a game out of the now 25ish games where a unit on both sides isn't heavily crippled to uselessness or sunk outright turn 1 so this perspective is based on my experiences). Because the Murmansk comes on AFTER all these models have activated, you have alpha struck, so has your opponent but you made them choose which unit to hit, all things working decently well. NOW you can go again turn one, with no fear of repercussions to your ship because your opponent is out of activations, and can't bring his own reserves on until at least turn 2, assuming a good role. The dice pool this is throwing in that close range is enough to cripple another major combatant, or sink 1-2 cruiser (and probably even possibly a third if you can manage to ram it, it hits surprisingly hard because with drift you will get the 6" cap on ramming easily enough, or at least 5" but given you can pre-measure, the 6" is easy enough because it can basically come up wherever the player wishes). It gives you an extra card in hand so a slightly higher chance of getting a repair one hull point card, and given the damage you will likely cause, blocking LoS or getting shot at while count as obscured, and other things, it is unlikely your opponent can do much about it. The cost is high, but it's in the same realm as similarly sized units (cheaper by a lot in some others like the Ice Maiden) but performs way above their abilities because it focusses on the most important thing in the game only... offence. If you compare the cheapest capital in the Russians, the Borodino, For the same points cost, I can get two cruisers, which have more guns and arguably, more survivability. There is no good reason to take a Borodino at all, but a very good reason to take the Murmansk. 

9 hours ago, Phant Mastik said:

I think the rules are pretty clear. As a submerged unit I can ram any model without the Aerial or Ground Unit trait. This should include  most of the ships.

 

Concerning obstacles and torpedoes: I think the LOS rules make it possible to hide small models behind large obstacles, but do not allow to hide big models behind small obstacles. In some circumstances, they make the large models harder to hit (centre point). Since DW is a game, some abstraction is necessary - but to me it seems consistent in it's effect. I must admit, looking up the rules for shooting torps through intervening things, LOS is not the first place to have a look at (at least to me).

 

Concerning the Murmansk: It costs a lot of points and therefore is likely to be your flagship. Deploying it first round will do 1 damage to it, and due to it's reserve status it will be one of the last models activating in the turn. Throwing it to the front with Armour 6 and 7 Hullpoints left might be a bit risky - but why not.

 

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Concerning Generators: I see your point. I think the sentence should read

The Unit may replace a single Heavy Gun Battery weapon [per Model] with one of the following Generators. If one Model replaces a weapon, then all Models in the Unit must replace the same Heavy Gun Battery with the same Generator. The cost is per Model.

 

Murmansk & Alpha-strike:

Uhh my fault. I thought Reserves arrive in a separate Phase before the movement step and have to stay unactivated until all other units did their activation. Would have been pretty bad for the Murmansk...

Reading the rules again, I must admit Deploying and Activating in one go seems very good. My only problem is, I do not have one...

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On 8/26/2021 at 1:08 AM, Phant Mastik said:

Concerning Generators: I see your point. I think the sentence should read

The Unit may replace a single Heavy Gun Battery weapon [per Model] with one of the following Generators. If one Model replaces a weapon, then all Models in the Unit must replace the same Heavy Gun Battery with the same Generator. The cost is per Model.

 

Murmansk & Alpha-strike:

Uhh my fault. I thought Reserves arrive in a separate Phase before the movement step and have to stay unactivated until all other units did their activation. Would have been pretty bad for the Murmansk...

Reading the rules again, I must admit Deploying and Activating in one go seems very good. My only problem is, I do not have one...

You could also just say "Each model in this unit may replace a single Heavy Gun Battery weapon with one of the following Generators. If one Model replaces a weapon, then all Models in the Unit must replace the same Heavy Gun Battery with the same Generator. The cost is per Model." Many ways to fix this. It seems small, but there are these kinds of problems through the rules and like I mentioned, it's not like this is the late 80's and we are talking about GW. This isn't the only game out there and to attract players, I think the standard needs to be higher. 

Lol, that is fair. if you wanted to try it, make a circle a couple of inches in diameter and draw a cross on it, marking each pizza slice as port, starport, fore and aft, and the guns are on the ends of the lines. Should represent it well enough to have a play and experiment if your group is cool with that kind of thing. I'm lucky to play with people dedicated to enjoying this game so they are super flexible, but I recognise not all groups have this luxury.

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I would like to say that I think some great points have been made. I also am a huge fan of DW but have started running into one rules issue after another. That being said some of this is just opinion but some of it is just confusing, especially for new players.  

1) Movement Step PAGE 18 gives to many ways to cheese extra turning radius out of the template. Its easy to pick points on the ship that are not flat and you can fudge extra turn radius, this is not even always a purposeful action. 

2) Critical damage, getting a Catastrophic explosion actually seems to be not really as strong as some of the critical.  why is this?

3)Defenses PAGE 23, In the explanation of defenses it states "Before the Action Dice have been rolled for an Attack, the Initial Target may declare it will be using its Defenses."  it later says "each Model in the Unit within 4" of the Initial Target (and with the relevant Defense), adds +1 die to the Defensive action Dice Pool. This does not prevent those same models from being able to use Defenses themselves during the same Activation."

Question: what is the point of having to declare you are using your defenses as there is no limit to you using them at lest that is stated in the rules anywhere that I can find. Secondly why would you even mention that the aiding another model in the unit does not stop you from using your defenses if there is no stated limit?

4)   OPERATIONS STEP PAGE16, ":During Operations each Unit is able to perform a variety of actions Typically, units will launch fighters and bombers, submarines may set their dive-plans to go into deep running, or Aerial units may go into ta steep climb to rise up into the clouds." 

There are no rules for dive-plans, or flying into a steep climb, also there is NOT a variety of actions models can do. 

5)ORBATS are a bit confusing the way they are doing all the Traits and Special rules. They need to clean this up. Simple things like removing the concept of special SRS tokens and just having it say that you get (4)Blitzen bombers and then give rules for the BB in the top , getting rid of the extream range special rule and just making a 4th range band all in all clean it up. 

6)Dice, the whole Heavy Hit doing (2)hits is a little silly. You have a 1/2 chance to hit at all, a 1/6th chance to do (1)hit, a 1/3 chance to do (2)hits  of which 50% of the time you get to roll an extra die. I do not understand the point of having the Heavy Hit do (2) hits. 

7) Generators are super cool but I agree are kind of pointless.  What good is removing (2) dice from a attack pool when they are going to throw 30+ at you. Seems kind of pointless maybe if it was 2 from the main weapon and 2 from each support but anyways, I'm just agreeing they are a little underwhelming but they are so cool conceptually 

OVERALL I think the game is fun but if we are going to pull new players in and their hard earned money it needs an overhaul. Massive balancing, reworking of a lot of the rules, cleaning up wording and adding all the content. My hopes are that once they drop the last (2) factions they will put out a 3.5 rule set. Or an ADVANCED play rules set. Fix SRS tokens from being just a lame weapon that doesn't need LOF and make them something more the models are great lets get them on the table flying around.

The team has done a lot of great things I just hope they continue to move forward and clean up and fix the issues. It feels like I'm playing a Beta game that had a beta for 4 years. 

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SRS is hard, I don't really know how to approach it to be honest. You had serious issues in older editions with just carrier navies and nothing else, and they were hard to stop... but currently SRS are attached to hilariously over-costed vessels, they don't really do much damage (when you consider what you could be buying for the same points) and the short range is pretty problematic (and of course if you accidentally get a sturginium flare, any SRS you put on that ship are wiped out, which means you might hesitate to shoot at it...). I'm not really sure how to approach SRS.

I'm glad there are others with similar observations. We will all have slightly different expectations/wants for how we want the game to work, but I think there are some systemic issues here. Unfortunately the only other place to talk about this might be the facebook group, which after observations seems to be pretty hostile and quite vile when someone presents a slightly alternative idea to what the group think currently holds,  so glad we have these forums.

for point 1 above, you are told to move from the centre of the ship, which helps, but I haven't the foggiest why models weren't designed with this in mind... the amount of curved surfaces on the side of ships is surprising given the expectation. I mean, hell, even the design of SRS doesn't make sense... they are meant to be placed in a stack next a ship but the models don't actually stack well! back to the point, I mean, if you wanted to, you could angle it right around on a curved surface for turning because it says from the centre, but nothing says it must be parallel to the ship... You couldn't pull someone up on that because hey, you're obeying the rules, so yeah, I completely agree with you.

point 3, I think this is extra clarification. probably unnecessary, but I actually like this clarification because it helps dispel confusion. 

point 4, yeah... Hopefully that all comes soon, but given they refer to submarines, not sure why that isn't a core-rule in the rulebook that subs will have in ORBATS... 

point 5, I mean, has anyone seen the rules for the Prussian underwater giant sword robots? I thought they were trying to simplify the game... what's worse is the unit is that complicated, and utterly awful. Good luck selling that thing. 

point 6, It's hard on this point. I can see that the devs wanted a highly a violent and somewhat aggressive game. I'll use better wording than above because the aggressiveness of the game isn't particularly higher than others I have played, but it's a LOT more violent. With about 20% terrain it's rare someone in our group isn't getting wiped by turn 3, especially if you get double-activation card, it's easy enough to clean up two enemy squadrons in one fell swoop. we tend to play around 1000 points currently, with a few much bigger. bigger games don't feel tactically interesting, you just squeeze a huge line of boats on the field and see who rolls best. feels like the kind of game you want for players who just want to roll dice and don't want to think at all.

point 7, honestly, just take shroud generators unless you can see a particular need for a faction one. Shroud gets round devastating (makes it only 2 damage rather than 3) and you don't get any explosions from 6's. Given you are aiming for explosions (we mathed out if you have sustained or a re-roll card you basically default to re-rolling single hits, as well as any misses, because you end up with more explosions and thus successes), shutting them down is a decent defence mechanic, but don't rely on it. you basically just want maximum output in your fleet, everything else is a waste of time. if you find a ship that averages more successes, just take that over the others. This is why I think point 2 is so important, there aren't meaningful choices in the ORBATS (in most cases). killing ships quicker trumps any defensive strategy or equipment, so just kill them quicker. 

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Oh, you can, as far as I can tell, shoot at units outside the range of a weapon, by killing a model in the same unit that is in-range, then any other shots targeting that model then move to another model within 5", in the same unit and also in LoS. So you just target all attacks at the model just in range, then chain them along (as long as all subsequent shots are within 5" of where the initial target was).  Why have extreme range weapons with rules like that? <_<

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This is the exact reason WWX went caput in my area. Love the game love the minis and I probably would have never picked up another game again because it offered so much.

inconsistencies in wording, unclear rules, rules that were inconsistent and a scenario that if you did not make assumptions about, was completely unplayable. 
 

had hoped to see better for dystopian wars.

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59 minutes ago, skaroreg said:

This is the exact reason WWX went caput in my area. Love the game love the minis and I probably would have never picked up another game again because it offered so much.

inconsistencies in wording, unclear rules, rules that were inconsistent and a scenario that if you did not make assumptions about, was completely unplayable. 
 

had hoped to see better for dystopian wars.

Never heard of WWX sorry. 

It's one of those things really under-estimated, those little things that clean up the game for a better experience overall. It's easy to say "homebrew rules" but the reason homebrew kinda sucks is that it is usually inconsistent, worse in balance and generally for only a tiny group of people.  It's not like the late 80's, and Warcradle is GW and can corner virtually the entire miniatures market for critical mass of sales that has lasted it well into this decade. Even that juggernaut of a company slowly but surely bleeds market control to emerging games. It'll probably continue, it has a generational memory until it might start seeing problems, but DW doesn't have that. It doesn't have 30+ years of strongly dedicated fanbase and no competitors. It's a different time now, and there are heaps of competitors. It's had something like 4 years to crack on and get this game out, and I'm concerned Covid coupled with dribbles of content coming out is putting a fair amount of strain on warcradle, much less the problems listed above. 

Still, I have hope. This game rests very much in a niche of gaming, but it's thematics/aesthetics capture popular attention... there really isn't anything comparable on the market right now.  It can succeed if it would just leverage that stuff, pay attention to the nuance of design in both rules and models (which, by the way, the models in design have been pretty darn good, just some silly wasted opportunities) and it can make the cut. 

Has anyone here played a few games now? I haven't heard much on Capital ships and how they feel/play from anyone and am keen to get other insight. To me they are pretty darn awful, feel nothing like capital ships and are forced on the player because you must have some kind of big command ship. I mean, averaging 3 guns (two if you count the shroud generator you will likely put on it)? That's the same amount and same type of gun on a cruiser (so it literally outputs the same damage as one) and you can get 2-3 cruisers per capital ship...

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That's not to say I think it's inevitable this game won't succeed, I can't tell the future any better than anyone else can, but I just have concerns and I'm not convinced relying on the old-guard to prop up game sales is a great move... But hey, I'd be pretty damn pleased to be wrong. 

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I'm buying a British fleet for fun to collect but from a brief look at the rules and what generators it does seem very confusing.

Like it sounds cool to have a couple cruisers with shield generators and torpedo launchers, which for collecting is fine, but it sounds like that would be entirely detrimental to play with.

The boats look very cool however, even if one of the frigates models looks like it's turret has melted into the deck.

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I have my fingers crossed that they will provide 3.5 rules set around the end of the year or once we see all the factions and a wider variety of units AKA once air units, subs etc. are in the game and have model support. The models are great and there is a lot of fluff for the setting, so I really doubt its their purgative to kill the game, I mean they could have just left it sink with Spartan. I think if they pay attention to their fans and people are honest about the issues(and don't just fan boy) they can be ironed out. People just haver to remember to be respectful and at least give peoples comments (positive or negative) some consideration and thought. 

As for the SRS tokens its quite simple, Star Wars Armada uses squadrons and I think they work quite well with the game. Not that it should be identical, but giving them a basic stat card and just using the token as a location marker, and making stacks out of empty bases with a nice pretty token base on top (the one with the planes) would work fine. They don't need to make it overly complex with all the fuel and ammo and so on. Just have them flying around attacking. And your carriers get (X) number of tokens and each turn can launch one extra one and control up to a maximum of (X).  Heck they don't even really need to have fighters and bombers.........planes can be both its the freaking past with alien tech........and then if they do have multiple types that is just even more cool looking  SRS and Special SRS tokens they can make for us to put on the field. That is a kind of veg explanation but basically just make them a resource management aspect of the game that get to move and attack like everything else (all be it with slightly different rules) I really don't think it would be that hard to work something out.

 

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I also want to highlight that waiting for the rules doesn't bother me. I'm not going to get into the specifics of whether it was the best business move to beta, because I truly donb't know, I have nothing to base that on, so I trust Warcradle did the right thing by them. I also don't expect this to be perfect straight out of the gates. I can see the team making this game are dedicated and genuinely honest about their intent to make a great game. I have no concerns here at all. But I can understand the pressure constant social media apply's to teams today; the sky-high expectations of quality, timeframe and cost, resulting in unrealistically achievable goals for the designers. I just want to say I'm happy to wait, and more than happy to discuss. Perhaps my words above are too harsh, or perhaps they are right on the money, I can only highlight what I perceive to be as systemic problems that concern me... But I don't want them to sound like I'm just bashing the designers who are "idiots" or "people who can't see the simple truth". This stuff is bloody hard work, and I acknowledge that. I'm happy to wait for good content, as a fan to the devs, I've seen good attitude and intention, and that counts for WAY more than it may seem.

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Warcradle seems to update the rules and orbats around releases, so we could be in a living rulebook scenario. I do think the game is much more playable than it was earlier in the year, as they did lower the amount of dice in support fire across the board and also added more defensive traits into the game.  My only criticism here is that it when these updates happen, there should be an announcement(whether via tweet, facebook, or in the blog), so we know that new orbats are out. 

SRS tokens also got some upgrades in the last orbats.  Combat patrol is like a weaker Covenant sneak attack, and some units ended up getting bonuses if they or an enemy is next to SRS.  And at their core, they can be used for defense, assist in an assault, or go do their own attack.   SRS does a lot of interesting things. 

I still believe Mass 2 ships are the punch in every fleet atm, however, Flagships have been getting some significant buffs over the past 2 months as well.  Mass 1 ships seem to be in the place they should be.

This newest version of the game has only been around for 6 months now, and still has yet to see the releases of 3 factions.  I do think it will take time for it to get settled.

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I don't disagree this is a living rulebook, my concern is the almost pattern of changes that are ongoing.

On SRS, CAP is pretty bad, given your enemy doubles their defensive dice, and SRS are very weak as it is, I don't see this as a meaningful option. You get 2.2 attacks per game at long range instead of just 2. it's pretty poor.

Flagships got a little bit of hitpoints, but that wasn't super exciting. Being crippled functionally stops the capital ship, putting out around the damage of an expensive mass 1 destroyer. It's not good. Mass 1 is definitely in a better spot, but it's hard to gauge actually. Because they have so many models, they legit have options to multi-combine volleys at different targets, so I'm not as down at understanding them as I want to be. So far, my main opponent runs a diogenese pack of 6, and that 7 times out of 8 will cripple my battleship of any kind in the first volley. They are dangerous, primarily because defensive options against them are basically shroud... anti-torpedo defence in most ships is extremely weak, and capitals need to buy escorts to get more which you can just disappear trivially if you need to, or flat out ignore.

I don't think you can fix the BB problem without either splitting guns up more, customising the guns on each ship, or giving BB's more turrets. Given there are models out already, I doubt the last one is a feasible option. 
 

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2 hours ago, Captaincandle said:

I don't disagree this is a living rulebook, my concern is the almost pattern of changes that are ongoing.

On SRS, CAP is pretty bad, given your enemy doubles their defensive dice, and SRS are very weak as it is, I don't see this as a meaningful option. You get 2.2 attacks per game at long range instead of just 2. it's pretty poor.

Flagships got a little bit of hitpoints, but that wasn't super exciting. Being crippled functionally stops the capital ship, putting out around the damage of an expensive mass 1 destroyer. It's not good. Mass 1 is definitely in a better spot, but it's hard to gauge actually. Because they have so many models, they legit have options to multi-combine volleys at different targets, so I'm not as down at understanding them as I want to be. So far, my main opponent runs a diogenese pack of 6, and that 7 times out of 8 will cripple my battleship of any kind in the first volley. They are dangerous, primarily because defensive options against them are basically shroud... anti-torpedo defence in most ships is extremely weak, and capitals need to buy escorts to get more which you can just disappear trivially if you need to, or flat out ignore.

I don't think you can fix the BB problem without either splitting guns up more, customising the guns on each ship, or giving BB's more turrets. Given there are models out already, I doubt the last one is a feasible option. 
 

CAP is great.  because if you are playing units with Maritime patrol or Spotter, you can get those bonuses on the first turn.    SRS have so many other functions in the game than just the attack run.  Not to mention just breaching the armor forces your opponent to roll a critical damage dice. 

And I will have to commend your opponent for having insane rolls if he is crippling a Flagship on the first volley with just a unit of 6 Diogenese, You need about 36 hits on 20 dice, and that is with about 5 defense dice(up to 3 more with escorts, maybe more depending on the ship).  I do think they can do a lot of damage depending on how the rolls go, perhaps focus down a cruiser, but you would need a lot of Exploding hits to make it work. 

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On 9/4/2021 at 4:43 PM, c2k said:

CAP is great.  because if you are playing units with Maritime patrol or Spotter, you can get those bonuses on the first turn.    SRS have so many other functions in the game than just the attack run.  Not to mention just breaching the armor forces your opponent to roll a critical damage dice. 

And I will have to commend your opponent for having insane rolls if he is crippling a Flagship on the first volley with just a unit of 6 Diogenese, You need about 36 hits on 20 dice, and that is with about 5 defense dice(up to 3 more with escorts, maybe more depending on the ship).  I do think they can do a lot of damage depending on how the rolls go, perhaps focus down a cruiser, but you would need a lot of Exploding hits to make it work. 

The seeker torpedos is simple maths, and it easily is getting that many successes. They have 24 dice in rb 2 (with 9 inch movement that should be achievable pretty easily). You get exactly 4 of each roll of the dice. so 4 explosions, 4 heavy hits, 4 singles, etc. You ignore obscured because of homing and re-roll blanks. So before re-rolls, you have 20 successes. you get 8 more dice (4 from explosions, 4 re-rolls of blanks) which is another 6ish successes (one heavy, one explosion, one single plus probably another heavy hit or explosion so closer to 27 successes). It's not very hard to achieve that many successes, and Diogenese have a small attack pool... It's more worrying seeing ~24 dice or so with sustained, because if you aren't rolling heavies or explosions, you just re-roll and aim for extra dice. you can really ramp up the damage quickly. 20 successes nearly sinks a cruiser so small pools like that are great for that kind of thing. Taking a Brandenburg as an example, 28 successes cripples it (4 through the armour, 2 extra from double citadel, has 6 hull points before cripple). Not very hard to hit that cripple level. It's why I think Capital ships are so rubbish. Enormous point sink for ~ 1.5 cruiser damage output (assuming no generator) and very easy VP's to your opponent. Their just... not meaningful. As above though, one or two exceptions to that rule.

You average ~3 counters on a Brandenburg (which has a decent SDV of 7) so it's not hard to break through and get those 28 successes needed (not counting escorts because they are so trivially easy to remove if it's important to cripple it. 1/4 of its hitpoints and a crit is also a good result). You will have even more chance if you save your command re-roll or re-roll card for it, depending on the situation. Lots of ways to stack up those explosions. 

As far as spotter goes, it's a nice skill, but you paid ~250 or more points for it, which feels like a waste. Sustained is nuts strong as an ability, but it doesn't seem 250 or more  points strong to me for the one, maybe two squads that have it (usually with smaller pools of dice in a lot of cases like gustavs and the like... but I think gustavs where great until shroud took over). Remember, only models firing extreme range weapons get that rule, and only for that weapon. Now if it gave sustained for any model shooting at that target with gunnery weapons... then I'd agree to using SRS. If you use them as air defence, again, it's a ****-tonne of points to do so... and you can just not shoot that target and instead shoot the carrier. If the carrier is protection itself, sweet, you shoot rockets elsewhere and hit it with guns, it's not hard to subvert that problem. On crits, given the amount of cards and rolls you get to repair them, I've had 4 games of 30 where they were annoying. Lots of cards to insta-repair crits or disorder so not a huge issue if you get them. an attack run of 8 SRS is 16 dice minus counters. For the same points, I can get 35 gunnery dice at the same range and no counters... I don't see the attraction, the maths just isn't there.

Now, If people want to use X ships, friggin go for it. My concern isn't enjoyment, that is subjective and doesn't necessarily revolve around balance (although I find people who use bad units tend to complain that their favourite unit sucks). Circling back to my initial post, there are clear winners and losers. SRS are definitely losers as far as I can tell. They don't output good damage, their flexibility is so weak it's actually not helpful, which is rare in a tabletop game... usually flexibility is king, and their protection only works effectively against an opponent who wants all missiles (or other air weapon). The Templehoff is one of the cheapest fleet carriers and you could instead buy pretty much 3 bluchers which will be way more effective, and won't lose effectiveness as quickly as damage mounts. 

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11 hours ago, Captaincandle said:

The seeker torpedos is simple maths, and it easily is getting that many successes. They have 24 dice in rb 2 (with 9 inch movement that should be achievable pretty easily). You get exactly 4 of each roll of the dice. so 4 explosions, 4 heavy hits, 4 singles, etc. You ignore obscured because of homing and re-roll blanks. So before re-rolls, you have 20 successes. you get 8 more dice (4 from explosions, 4 re-rolls of blanks) which is another 6ish successes (one heavy, one explosion, one single plus probably another heavy hit or explosion so closer to 27 successes). It's not very hard to achieve that many successes, and Diogenese have a small attack pool... It's more worrying seeing ~24 dice or so with sustained, because if you aren't rolling heavies or explosions, you just re-roll and aim for extra dice. you can really ramp up the damage quickly. 20 successes nearly sinks a cruiser so small pools like that are great for that kind of thing. Taking a Brandenburg as an example, 28 successes cripples it (4 through the armour, 2 extra from double citadel, has 6 hull points before cripple). Not very hard to hit that cripple level. It's why I think Capital ships are so rubbish. Enormous point sink for ~ 1.5 cruiser damage output (assuming no generator) and very easy VP's to your opponent. Their just... not meaningful. As above though, one or two exceptions to that rule.

You average ~3 counters on a Brandenburg (which has a decent SDV of 7) so it's not hard to break through and get those 28 successes needed (not counting escorts because they are so trivially easy to remove if it's important to cripple it. 1/4 of its hitpoints and a crit is also a good result). You will have even more chance if you save your command re-roll or re-roll card for it, depending on the situation. Lots of ways to stack up those explosions. 

As far as spotter goes, it's a nice skill, but you paid ~250 or more points for it, which feels like a waste. Sustained is nuts strong as an ability, but it doesn't seem 250 or more  points strong to me for the one, maybe two squads that have it (usually with smaller pools of dice in a lot of cases like gustavs and the like... but I think gustavs where great until shroud took over). Remember, only models firing extreme range weapons get that rule, and only for that weapon. Now if it gave sustained for any model shooting at that target with gunnery weapons... then I'd agree to using SRS. If you use them as air defence, again, it's a ****-tonne of points to do so... and you can just not shoot that target and instead shoot the carrier. If the carrier is protection itself, sweet, you shoot rockets elsewhere and hit it with guns, it's not hard to subvert that problem. On crits, given the amount of cards and rolls you get to repair them, I've had 4 games of 30 where they were annoying. Lots of cards to insta-repair crits or disorder so not a huge issue if you get them. an attack run of 8 SRS is 16 dice minus counters. For the same points, I can get 35 gunnery dice at the same range and no counters... I don't see the attraction, the maths just isn't there.

Now, If people want to use X ships, friggin go for it. My concern isn't enjoyment, that is subjective and doesn't necessarily revolve around balance (although I find people who use bad units tend to complain that their favourite unit sucks). Circling back to my initial post, there are clear winners and losers. SRS are definitely losers as far as I can tell. They don't output good damage, their flexibility is so weak it's actually not helpful, which is rare in a tabletop game... usually flexibility is king, and their protection only works effectively against an opponent who wants all missiles (or other air weapon). The Templehoff is one of the cheapest fleet carriers and you could instead buy pretty much 3 bluchers which will be way more effective, and won't lose effectiveness as quickly as damage mounts. 

 

I did a little experiment did 10 rolls of 6 Diogenes at closing range(to get their max dice of 21, even though its only a +1 difference) against a Brandenburg with no escorts.  The averages were 22 hits, 4 exploding dice, 4 counters on defense, 19 undefended hits, a 2 Hull loss.  It is true you would have to get a critical die roll, but the ship was never crippled.  There were 3 rolls where I would have taken 3 damage:  Two times  because I whiffed the defense roll with a 0 and a 1 respectively, and the other time was because of a godly 31 hit roll (thanks to 11 exploding hits), which I was able to mitigate witha  6 defense counter roll.  So, I can't see how this ship would get crippled 7 out of 8 times from 1 unit of Diogenese subs.  I would understand those times where the dice fail to go your way, that is just the luck nature of war games. 

If you are referring to the Gustav, yes Spotter gives sustained to it because its an extreme range weapon, as is the Speerschleuder.  And it doesn't say Obscured overrides the Devastating quality, while your Exploding hits will not generate extra dice, you still count them as 3 hits.  I still feel you are undervaluing the SRS in the game, but that could just be a playstyle difference and is completely fair.  Fleet composition is ultimately the deciding factor of how well strategies will work, and 1 ship does not seem to ruin that balance yet. 

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7 hours ago, c2k said:

 

I did a little experiment did 10 rolls of 6 Diogenes at closing range(to get their max dice of 21, even though its only a +1 difference) against a Brandenburg with no escorts.  The averages were 22 hits, 4 exploding dice, 4 counters on defense, 19 undefended hits, a 2 Hull loss.  It is true you would have to get a critical die roll, but the ship was never crippled.  There were 3 rolls where I would have taken 3 damage:  Two times  because I whiffed the defense roll with a 0 and a 1 respectively, and the other time was because of a godly 31 hit roll (thanks to 11 exploding hits), which I was able to mitigate witha  6 defense counter roll.  So, I can't see how this ship would get crippled 7 out of 8 times from 1 unit of Diogenese subs.  I would understand those times where the dice fail to go your way, that is just the luck nature of war games. 

If you are referring to the Gustav, yes Spotter gives sustained to it because its an extreme range weapon, as is the Speerschleuder.  And it doesn't say Obscured overrides the Devastating quality, while your Exploding hits will not generate extra dice, you still count them as 3 hits.  I still feel you are undervaluing the SRS in the game, but that could just be a playstyle difference and is completely fair.  Fleet composition is ultimately the deciding factor of how well strategies will work, and 1 ship does not seem to ruin that balance yet. 

Yeah, it's why I used the math above, because it's more reliable than examples. I could go the rest of my Dystopian wars life experiencing bad rolls despite the average expectation. The math says average of 3 damage 1 crit, slightly more gets crippled. I think it is the best thing to go off because it's the most stable set to work with, arguably the only way to balance units in any meaningful way and also a common factor people can easily follow. You make a good point though that enough simulations could have the same result, but I suspect that would still fall under a standardised probability curve very similar to above, but more accurate. 

So, I was hoping someone would ask the devastating question! The wording of Devastating is "Attacks made with this quality treat a roll of an Exploding Hit on an action dice as three Hits rather than the usual Two." (page 36). Being obscured reads "Exploding Hits rolled against an Obscured model instead count as a Heavy Hit and do not provide additional dice" (page 10). Now, Heavy hits do 2 damage, not 3 damage. Why does Devastating still count as Three Hits in your mind? To me,  it counts as a Heavy Hit, and Devastating does not modify the amount of Hits of a Heavy Hit, only an Exploding Hit. 

I will concede playstyle may definitely influence perspective of SRS, but I'm still yet to see any proof in hard numbers. We've got 5 players and now over 35 games between us, with quite a few tests of SRS from all but one player so while this is still a small and definitely bias tests, we have seen no example of SRS actually being better than another choice in our ORBATS, which to me is the ultimate test. Why take SRS when something else does it's job better? This is the case with ALL factions as far as we can tell, because the issue lies with the associated cost of SRS and the poor damage output. It is the same position I have taken with Battleships and again, have yet to have any evidence thrown against it (despite how much I want to not have crappy compulsory units). That entire basis was the crux for the OP. I was hoping to generate discussion where someone could show that I was downright wrong, but I've yet to see anything. I definitely agree, for example, that SRS could be good as spotters only, but why on earth are you paying ~250 points for that luxury with a few weapons? Just go without and buy three of your standard cruisers which, at the same RB as the maximum range of those SRS minus the first turn (or every second turn for long range only; which is three sorties over the life of the game), are putting out significantly more combined dice, are harder to kill, can shoot at longer RB and provide greater board threat. If you needed more activations you can split that 3-ship squadron into 1 and 2 for slightly lesser damage output (technically slightly more dice but one dice of 15 needs to get through armour then the second volley of 25 also needs to get through armour which degrades the damage output). Or, just as effectively, go for quite a few squadrons of mass 1 ships. They output less damage but help you dictate first-turn (or second turn if you messed up badly, which happens) engagement choices which are so critical to the game. Opening volley of weapons like combined torps or combined rockets are so important to dictating later stages of the game, so activations are where it is at, so forgo the SRS and get greater tactical options and force your opponent to engage what you decide in the first turn, because something is getting nuked. All of these choices are hands-down better choices than a carrier because of the raw numbers of damage and/or the greater flexibility of choice on the table. The only dangerous SRS unit we could see was the Ice Maiden (which outputs a pretty insane one-target strike)... but with a 500 point price tag it actually ends up being "how long can this unit hold out against the horde coming for me" rather than "wow I can actually blow stuff up easy with this thing". in 500 points you will die extremely quickly because you can't kill things quickly enough before crippled which hurts it too much to prevent a comeback. At 1000 points your opponent has so many activations they will run rings around you. Remember SRS activate after all units have finished activations for the turn, so you have full-health squadrons slamming into you first turn before you even do think about crippling a ship to start reducing incoming fire. and the two or possibly three smaller squadrons you have as escort aren't going to be evening out that problem for you. At 1500 we haven't tried it, and we suspect it may start levelling out at this level but the question always circles back to, is those points in cruisers more effective than those points in Carrier? I haven't run the numbers in this example specifically, but I strongly suspect the cruisers will come out on top as they almost always do. 

One thing this game kiiiiinda gets the feel of is squadron occupation, or, targeting priority. What you end up having to do, minus the occasionally but reasonably frequent moments you end up split-firing at targets of opportunity (or broadsides), is X friendly squadron ends up being occupied focussing its efforts against Y enemy squadron. Now, because combined fire is so dang powerful, the math supports strongly wiping out, say, a cruiser than putting one or two damage across the whole squadron. Perhaps if Combining was less powerful it might encourage even greater tactical choice on the player? Hmmmm, that's something worth thinking about actually... It also means you can have an entire faction where focussed fire is a theme, with the slight loss of tactical choice making... but that would circle back round to the problem of standardised guns... There is some potential there though as an idea. Plus you can have effects such as "If every model in this squadron fires at a different target to other models in this squadron, all enemy models receiving fire from non-broadside weaponry gets a token of disorder if damage was done to that model". Represents how scary and disorderly controlled and effective gunnery is on recipients. 

 

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I should also ask people, has anyone actually won a game based of scenario VP's yet? We have had one or two, but tabling your opponent turn 3/4 is basically the standard way to win as far as we can tell, because of how deadly units are to each other. Would love to hear experiences here. Even very sub-optimal units tend to wipe each other out before turn 5. 

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