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myth28

is boarding too strong ?

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we played a large ( 3 x 1275 ) group naval game and ended the usual way the other day . i was playing FSA against RC and RoF i spent the first 3 turns shooting long range at his Vauban as in previous games this thing can just about win a game on its own . on turn 3 i finnaly brought it down with guns at which time i i found myself with the remainder of the french and russian fleets at RB 1,2 where my much vaunted FSA double shielded dred ( only one point of damage ) was boarded and lost . what followed was a furball of boarding with all nations hopping from one ship to the other until the game was won (decisive vic to the french ) now i understand a 3 way game is a little diff because if you try and stay in rb 4 from 1 side you'll get closer to the other . but we realized , after 2 years and many games the shooting down of the vauban was the first dred ever destroyed in our games , all previouslly going to boarding . and on retrospect most of our games are 2-3 turns shooting followed by 1-2 turns boarding where the game is decided is this the norm for many ? and if so is boarding too strong ?

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Not for most people. Compare rough tiers of overall strength vs Boarding potential

 

Perceived Strength                                                            

Top: FSA, French, CoA

Middle:  KoB, Russians, EotbS

Bottom: Prussians

 

Boarding potential

Top: Prussians, Russians, EotBS

Middlish: French, FSA

Bottom: Kob , CoA

 

Only rough rankings, and I'm sure some people would tweak them up or down, but in broad terms,  good boarding fleets are not the strongest fleets. This strongly suggest that boarding is not too strong for most people.

However, a better question is: Is it harder to learn how to do boarding really well than shooting really well? After all, shooting with some fleets is literally point and shoot, whilst boarding is anything but...

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I wouldn't say it's necessarily too good, but it feels wierd that in a "age of dreadnoughts" kind of game the best, most decisive way to take a large ship out of game is not to sink it, but to revert to what good old greek galleys did, throwing warm bodies at the enemy and hoping you brought enough. In fact, if you put K-gens or teslas on mediums, due to the way boarding is resolved, it's probably more effective than putting any actual gunnery on a vessel.

 

Again, it's not necessarily "wrong", just wierd in a game about victorian super-science with lasers, microwave guns and lightning-throwing weapons. I feel the same way about it in F:A, it's clearly a carried-over thing from Uncharted Seas rather than something belonging to either game as a major element in their respective settings. It also underlines an issue that while mediums pop like water baloons if you look cross at them, and smalls are also easy enough to deal with, majority of large units takes much more firepower to deal with. Perhaps even inordinate amount in comparison. This leads to boarding being much easier, faster way to take a ship out of the fight, which again, feels a bit gamey and un-fluffy to me. I don't have an issue with boarding as such, I have issue with it being the most reliable way to take a large ship out of the fight.

 

As to the list above, I would put the FSA in the same tier as the Prussians in boarding. While they lack the handy Arminus spam, a lot of their units are just better at boarding than the Prussian equvalent. Lexingtons are more reliable boarding platform than the reivers, Independence is 1AP short of Emperor while Enterprise is as good at it as Blucher, and arguably faster in most rolls. Savannah has 2 more AP than the Imperium (arguably it does have Elite Crew, but it only helps if you get enough AP on the target in the first place) and Valley has only 1 less than the Gewitter. Lees are better at boarding than the Pflichts as they get a total of 20AP instead of 18, and spread across 4 ships so less AA per each ship. Even Princeton has more AP than the Hussar and K-gen to boot. Then you also have the John Henry, which is a flying robot that happens to have 6AP each. To top it off, there's Sharpshooter on all those units, which is just as good as tesla's lethal strike, except you don't have to link fixed-broadsides (or fore-fixed) weapons to get a result and potentially the target can lose 3AP even before boarding began, and unlike teslas, you can still board it after using the MAR.

 

So while the prussian smalls might put them slightly ahead of the americans, they are certainly second-best in my opinion.

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after 2 years and many games the shooting down of the vauban was the first dred ever destroyed in our games , all previouslly going to boarding

If after two years, you only managed to shoot down in DN once... maybe it's not boarding the problem, but the fact that those things just won't go down to shooting.

 

Most DN have shields, high AA/CC and super-high CR, so critting them is pretty hard. And since they have 7+ DR and HP in the double digits, you will run out of turns before they sink to multiple 1-damage shots. So yeah, obviously they go down to boarding, that's pretty much the only thing that works.

 

Since boarding is so bad at taking out Smalls and Mediums, it's just a matter of using the right weapon for the right job. Without that nice application of concentrated AP, the game would be named Dreadnought Wars.

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Our games usually aren't ended by boarding.  There is sometimes a desperate boarding attempt or two at the end but it's rarely decisive.  It's possible that's because we mostly like to play with our guns.

 

I don't think boarding is too strong and I think Bunnahabhain's comment helps illustrate the point.  I don't see fleets for whom boarding is plan A really tearing up the board. 

 

I do hate boarding, though.  I don't like how there are a bunch of mechanics that work poorly or strangely or unintuitively for the benefit of boarding.  I hate how you can have these interesting and involving duels of maneuver and gunnery and all the supporting arms, and then at the last minute try to board and you can make all of that irrelevant by making one dice roll; it's pretty much the textbook definition of an unfun mechanic.  On a purely personal level I don't like the idea of boarding in a game like DW, it just doesn't fit in the idealized version of the game in my head.  I recognize that a lot of people like that sort of thing but I'd be much happier if it just went away.  

 

So to sum up: I'd love if boarding was nerfed into oblivion, but that's because I personally dislike it, not because I think it's too strong, as it pretty clearly isn't.

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It has been said before that Dystopian Wars is in essence a boarding game and I think I have to agree with this. Which is a bit of a shame because as a Brit player my boarding is rubbish and its not really a style of play I enjoy but I still have to use it because its simply so much more effective against large and massive ships than shooting at them. Of course shooting is important in softening up so its not as simple as the best boarders will win but it still comes down 8/9 times out of 10 to the boarding actions.

 

So yeah, personally I think boarding is too powerful, so much so that even if you are a faction who has poor boarding you still have to play to board if you want to stand a reasonably good chance. Given this fact its a wonder that all the military planners at KoB (and all other nations) haven't twigged to this and converted all the ship yards to pumping out huge troops carrier boarding ships instead of wasting all those resources building big guns which just get captured by the enemy boarding swarm.

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It has been said before that Dystopian Wars is in essence a boarding game and I think I have to agree with this. Which is a bit of a shame because as a Brit player my boarding is rubbish and its not really a style of play I enjoy but I still have to use it because its simply so much more effective against large and massive ships than shooting at them. Of course shooting is important in softening up so its not as simple as the best boarders will win but it still comes down 8/9 times out of 10 to the boarding actions.

 

So yeah, personally I think boarding is too powerful, so much so that even if you are a faction who has poor boarding you still have to play to board if you want to stand a reasonably good chance. Given this fact its a wonder that all the military planners at KoB (and all other nations) haven't twigged to this and converted all the ship yards to pumping out huge troops carrier boarding ships instead of wasting all those resources building big guns which just get captured by the enemy boarding swarm.

I play the British and feel the game is won in the gunnery unless you're overly well matched at which point the next most violent skill comes into play. If you're a brit you should be able to GUT most boarding fleets in short order by taking out single ships from each unit (which is also effective for helping at gunnery.

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Boarding is absolutely a powerful force in Dystopian Wars, especially competitive Dystopian Wars, as it bags you double VPs from a vessel when you prize it. However! Boarding is also, in the vast majority of cases, a finisher and a winning move, not something that defines the game. Gunnery is necessary to reduce the targets AA, destroy fellow ships that can link in with it and allow your own ships to advance to boarding range.

 

I play in a very, very aggressive meta. Games don't last longer than three turns ever, boarding is very common even with fleets like the Covenant (if I don't board a couple of ships with my Cov in a 1000pts I feel cheated, and my regular opponent plays Prussians). As a result, I have a healthy respect for the power of boarding. I also know that it is avoidable and there are precautions you can take, and it's not overpowered. It's just right, really.

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I play the British and feel the game is won in the gunnery unless you're overly well matched at which point the next most violent skill comes into play. If you're a brit you should be able to GUT most boarding fleets in short order by taking out single ships from each unit (which is also effective for helping at gunnery.

 

Don't get me wrong I'm not saying a British player can rely on Boarding alone, in fact as we are one of the weakest boarding factions that would be suicide. But boarding is still by far the most effective way to finish the game and take out the large and massive enemy units even as a Brit. 

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But boarding is still by far the most effective way to finish the game

and take out the large and massive enemy units even as a Brit.

This. Boarding mechanics are massively stacked in favor of the boarder, which is downright funny when you consider defending is always easier than attacking. That tenant holds true in DW...except for boarding, where the defender has to split everything, while the attacker gets to steamroll the target without any limitation in this regard. I have to say I prefer boarding the way it's in F:A, you pool AP, get hit with AA, and then both sides roll their AP and count hits. As it is, offensive boarding is the only weapon besides TFTs in the game that does not have to link or split fire, it always gets to combine and unlike TFT's, no shields protect the target, and you have to get about 6-9 hits to win immediately, which is not enough to crit a large ship usually.

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Boarding is viable for all fleets. I have won or saved games whilst playing as the CoA and Brits through boarding. I'm not expecting boarding to these fleets main course of action, but they can do it. As mentioned above, for most fleets boarding is determined first by their gunnery.   If you weaken units, their boarding potential drops very fast- so many boarding units rely on the Cross shooting/boarding trick. This gets harder to do the fewer there are in the unit, and the easier it is to allocate your defensive AA.

 

I too see most games decided in turn 3 or 4, depending on fleet speeds and terrain set up. If it goes to turn 5, it's almost always one or two effective units on each side, all posed for a game winning action if they get to activate first.

 

The double VPs for prizing are well worth the risk for all fleets, especially if you are aggressive.  Often I will knowingly sacrifice a unit of smalls to stop a treat that must die now, so the AP on it are effectively dead anyway-  they're not worth prizing normally, so they will be sunk or left derelict. Therefore I might as well throw them at a vessel in the unit I'm trying to cripple- the worst likely* result is the target loses some AP.....

 

 

 

* The worst in game result.. Sabotage, magazine explosion sunk all the suicide smalls, and all his cruisers, one of with a magazine explosion, which did a whole load more damage, including finding some mines, and something with combustible cargo. Ended the game then and there, accomplishing both fleet orders at once - and I was on the verge of winning!)

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This. Boarding mechanics are massively stacked in favor of the boarder, which is downright funny when you consider defending is always easier than attacking. That tenant holds true in DW...except for boarding, where the defender has to split everything, while the attacker gets to steamroll the target without any limitation in this regard. I have to say I prefer boarding the way it's in F:A, you pool AP, get hit with AA, and then both sides roll their AP and count hits. As it is, offensive boarding is the only weapon besides TFTs in the game that does not have to link or split fire, it always gets to combine and unlike TFT's, no shields protect the target, and you have to get about 6-9 hits to win immediately, which is not enough to crit a large ship usually.

 

You've also got to get within 4 inches with everything that wants to board

 

That can be rather tricky.

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You've also got to get within 4 inches with everything that wants to board

 

That can be rather tricky.

 

not really with squads of frigate moving 12 inches a go while medium flyers can cross a range band a turn and even cruisers are usually a boarding threat by turn 2 or 3 and you can deal with many .... but you can rarely deal with all .. couple that with throwing a decoy frigate under the bow of your target to prevent them moving and you can board anything. maybe not first go but hey AP is free .. and silencess most guns quickly b!!!

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Well, I have never found boarding particularly troublesome. Target priority, careful positioning and awareness of range, movement and so on is enough to see you through. As I said, my regular opponent is a Prussian player and my own fleet of choice are Covenant, perhaps the strongest boarders with the fastest fleet and the weakest at resisting boarders around, and it's not been overly troublesome.

 

Cruiser squadrons are the best boarding unit but they are also rather easy to destroy, not that fast and if they are just thrown towards you then your opponent can kiss them goodbye.

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This. Boarding mechanics are massively stacked in favor of the boarder, which is downright funny when you consider defending is always easier than attacking. That tenant holds true in DW...except for boarding, where the defender has to split everything, while the attacker gets to steamroll the target without any limitation in this regard. I have to say I prefer boarding the way it's in F:A, you pool AP, get hit with AA, and then both sides roll their AP and count hits. As it is, offensive boarding is the only weapon besides TFTs in the game that does not have to link or split fire, it always gets to combine and unlike TFT's, no shields protect the target, and you have to get about 6-9 hits to win immediately, which is not enough to crit a large ship usually.

 

I this this is the nub of the matter, unlike pretty much everything else in the game Boarding is potentially an instant win against even an undamaged dreadnought, certainly battleships and such can go down easily from undamaged and worse giving double xp. This is what makes it feel (and perhaps it is) overly powerful, this is true for everyone so it isn't in and of itself a balance issue its more of a question of what you like from a game mechanics point of view. Some people will like the "epic" feeling in one hitting the most powerful unit in the game. Personally I like to see units taking all kinds of pounding and still limping around the board firing what ever weapons haven't been blown apart. Of course Dystopian wars doesn't simulate individual weapons being destroyed directly but it does so indirectly, sadly with boarding being as it is its usually better to fire on the smalls and mediums which tend to go down without much degradation and avoid the big ships which could soak up lots of fire because you can just insta-kill board them in mid-late game. From my own point of view I tend to feel its is a cheap win when I am the one doing it and a disappointing way to lose when its done against me. 

 

Another note is that its one of those moments when a player getting even slightly above average luck can screw you in a single attack that shouldn't really work, normally this would mean taking a crit (maybe a double crit) which is bad but not usually a game ender.

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Well, I have never found boarding particularly troublesome. Target priority, careful positioning and awareness of range, movement and so on is enough to see you through. As I said, my regular opponent is a Prussian player and my own fleet of choice are Covenant, perhaps the strongest boarders with the fastest fleet and the weakest at resisting boarders around, and it's not been overly troublesome.

 

Cruiser squadrons are the best boarding unit but they are also rather easy to destroy, not that fast and if they are just thrown towards you then your opponent can kiss them goodbye.

To be fair the argument isn't about are the boarding heavy fleets being good its is boarding itself a being good. The prussians are a weakish faction overall, yes they are strong boarders but they are very weak in other areas and the boarding isn't enough on its own to make up for that weakness, the best to demonstrate the effectiveness of boarding are EoBS (in my opinion the best overall boarding faction in the game) and FSA both have strong range and tough to kill units with lots of boarding potential.

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EotBS are great at boarding because they have Tanukis and to a slightly lesser extent Inaris

 

Oh yeah and Tetsubos

 

none of which are particularly difficult to kill. Only Tetsubos are a problem because you hit them on 6's, but even then that's not too hard, AA clears them out, they are vulnerable to boarding and once they've made their run they get wiped out. Inaris and Tanukis are rather easy to kill, despite their high crits they have now shields and get nailed by gunnery.

 

Honestly these days if the Russians can get to you, they are the best boarding faction. I took an untouched Vauban with a reinforced cruiser squadron, sheer weight of numbers. Boarding still isn't a problem though, it's just something that will happen, that you need to be aware of, and that you need to try and turn advantage to.

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Tanukis are rather easy to kill, despite their high crits they have now shields and get nailed by gunnery.

 

Whhhaaaaaaa? 8O

 

Seriously though thats the first time I've heard anyone claim Tanukis are easy to kill. Getting a crit is hard work and you need three to sink one assuming no repairs, more likely you will whittle them down but a smart EoBS player will keep them screened by other units and/or just move them around in the squadron to shield damaged ones, getting off shots with them against air units so as not to worry about line of sight. Seriously unless you are packing some serious firepower on an aerial platform a well played squadron of Tanukis are very very hard to stop. You can put 5 points of damage on all three of them and they are still just as effective a boarding squadron. 

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it's just something that will happen, that you need to be aware of, and that you need to try and turn advantage to.

 

Of course, and in the end it comes down to a matter of taste. Do you like instant kill mechanics or not... personally I don't but that is the way the game is designed so.... Maybe they might tone it down in the next version but I'm not holding my breath. At the end of the day you have to play the game you have and I do. But its one of those aspects of the game I would change if I could.

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 From my own point of view I tend to feel its is a cheap win when I am the one doing it and a disappointing way to lose when its done against me. 

 

This.  Exactly.

 

You have this whole game of maneuver and gunnery and armour, or you can just try to board and make all that stuff irrelevant.  And it has all sorts of terrible consequences from a design perspective.  

 

I don't play in a meta where people try to board aggressively.  If I did I probably would have moved on a long time ago.

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Whhhaaaaaaa? 8O

 

Seriously though thats the first time I've heard anyone claim Tanukis are easy to kill. Getting a crit is hard work and you need three to sink one assuming no repairs, more likely you will whittle them down but a smart EoBS player will keep them screened by other units and/or just move them around in the squadron to shield damaged ones, getting off shots with them against air units so as not to worry about line of sight. Seriously unless you are packing some serious firepower on an aerial platform a well played squadron of Tanukis are very very hard to stop. You can put 5 points of damage on all three of them and they are still just as effective a boarding squadron. 

 

A crit of eight is easy to reach. Twelve dice from a gunnery attack does it on average, and all it takes to destroy a Tanuki is three of them, which admittedly is tougher than many cruisers, but not especially so. Mediums are the easiest thing in the game to take down, focus a bit of fire over a couple of turns and you can destroy a squadron. I'd rather face some Tanukis than a points equivalent of Arminius, for example.

 

Sure, a Tanuki on five damage is still a credible threat. It's a great ship, and it moves like the clangers. But it's not really very difficult to deal with, and as long as you focus your fire on a ship at a time, then you'll be fine. I've got a Blazing Sun fleet with two squadrons of them myself, and I don't rely on their resilience whatsoever whenever I use them. Two twelve dice gunnery attacks and a Dive Bomber wing, that's a dead ship. Do it again, and what's left isn't worth much. A squadron of Plutarchs can kill one in a single shooting action, and have done numerous times. A Russian Gunboat squadron will tear a hole. And their AA isn't enough that once they've been critted once, you can rely on them to survive TFT assaults.

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I dunno, I find boarding very satisfying myself. It's a risky play, it takes clever maneuvering, and on turn three when the fleets are mixing and ships are right next to you, it's the desperate last minute boarding assault that can win you the game. As I said, my meta is super, super aggressive, and part of that is our love of boarding assaults and getting stuck in close. But we don't apologize for it, if you let a boarding threat get close enough to decapitate your fleet then you should have known better.

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I think about boarding at the same time as armour and gunnery. I have it in mind during  list building, deployment, and game play. I expect my opponent to be doing the same, and this means we end up with balanced games.

 

Tanukis are ridiculous. There is no other word. Every other gunship/armoured cruiser gets +1 CR and +1HP over the cruiser. There is no reason at all the tanuki should have 6HPs- even the Battle cruisers don't get that. They should be cut to 5HPs. Then they'd be priced about right.

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Boarding is a risky play, because one is completely open to the counter-board, and because of the short range limitation that is the 4" jet-pack range that most nations seem to have agreed on.

 

However, whatever one's personal thoughts on boarding (I personally like the swashbuckling style Spartan have applied to boarding) the reason I feel that it exists is as a balance mechanic.

 

Without the 'one shot kill' boarding device, many of the large and massives that populate the DW world would be nigh on untouchable by smalls and mediums. It's a rock paper scissors approach, without the achilles heel of being taken by an Arminius rush or whatever, a double shielded Enterprise will rule the roost every time (and it should be knocked down a peg anyway!)

 

My two cents anyway. :P

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