Monday, July 10, 2017

Checking it Twice: Deployment!

As I had mentioned, we're going to start with deployment.  Let's jump right into it.
Props to these guys, I just write about fake war on my Star Wars blog.
So there's not a HUGE amount to cover in this article, but we're going to talk about everything involved in deployment, and I'll detail what we're putting IN to our checklist and what we're leaving OUT.

The first, and dumbest, and most obvious point of our checklist is half of the reason I finally kicked this whole thing together: namely, having the right ships.  If you go back and look at some of the ship articles Eric and I have written, we gloss over things sometimes when ships have similar upgrade abilities.  For example! The MC30 has COMPLETELY identical upgrade slots for the Torpedo and the Scout versions.  So do Gladiators, so do flotillas for both sides.  Depending on what upgrades you build and what you put on your ships, you might be able to bring the upgrades for one ship on its brother.

In a game 2 weeks ago, I was playing a Dodonna list as vague prep for the next store champs I'm going to (course, now that the hammerheads are out I might need a full re-do....) and I had an MC30 in there.  Dodonna loves MC30s, it's great.  But when I built my list, I had WANTED the Torpedo version.  What I had built in the fleet builder app I used, was (as I'm sure you can guess) the Scout version.  Nothing beats throwing away 6 points because of the "wrong" ship I had selected.
Where's the anykey? Or my Tab?
This doesn't just fall into selecting the right ship.  How many of you have put an upgrade on a ship only to forget it's there when you play or even worse, forget to even put it on the table? I've done it, it's terribly dumb as you're leaving points behind.  This won't necessarily happen with a Pelta (you really CAN'T forget the upgrade if you're planning on using it every turn), but forgetting a Projection Experts on your crazy new Nebulon build or one of the 7 potential (non-Commander) upgrades on your Christmas tree ISD can happen, especially if you're newer with the list or trying something out.  Heck, it might even happen if you ARE familiar with the list!  It sounds incredibly dumb to say this, but before you start deployment and everything, look over the list you've printed out and ensure that you're choosing what you actually want to use.  Make sure that whatever fleet builder you use has the correct ships/squadrons selected that you want to use.

A word about fleet builders, because they're also something we should talk about.  There are many good ones out there, and they're INCREDIBLY useful too for building properly.  Not only do they help you build things quickly and let you add and subtract ships quickly as you come up with new and zanier ideas (hello Mothma 4 Hammerheads-2 MC30 list....), but they also ensure at a quick glance that you haven't built an illegal list.  Both of the 2 fleet builders I know of WILL let you overbuild on squadrons or overpay on points, BUT they have easily seen spots that tell you if you have ("Oh, I have 137 points, I need to cut down.").  Know that you have a maximum 134 points of squadrons and 400 points of total fleet and you'll be fine.
I'd love to say this isn't JUST going to be Simpsons jokes, but well, here we are...

For those of you who think you don't want to use one, let me relate another story.  When I was sending the data out from our latest store championship to shmitty, I had noticed that 2 people had done math incorrectly.  One person had built a 402 point list (through incorrect addition), and another had actually mis-added all the upgrades on one ship, resulting in it costing more points than it actually did.  I've got a math degree (hashbrown humblebrag), and I can fully tell you that even I have borked up basic math calculation in a day to day basis.  What happens when you're calculating your list on your phone's calculator (or your TI-89, kids!) and then you realize that you overbuilt your ship? "Oh, let me take that upgrade off, put this one on, take that, put that over here, add in an officer..." There's SO many places things can go screwy! What if you misremember the amount of points ANY of those cost (Quick, without looking, how many points does NK7 Ion Cannons cost? Or Overload Pulse? Projection Experts? the Shields to Max upgrade for the Pelta?)? What if you don't do the math correctly or forget to remove something? Using a fleet builder will both 1) Prevent you from making those dumb mistakes and 2) sometimes even give you a new idea of how to build a ship (hello Nebulon with Nav Team under General Leia...) through playing around and pressing buttons.

The 2 fleet builders that I know of (and that have no major issues I'm aware of) are Ryan Kingston's Armada Builder and Armada Warlords.  Play with both, see which one you like more.  The OTHER benefit to both is that you can log in and save lists that you've built to try.  If you find a list you like, you can keep playing it and perfecting it, making it better and looking at it over time.  You can save lists you come up with and then pull them up later in order to either refine them or bring them to the table.
Not that kind of table...
The LAST thing I'm going to talk about here with deployment and initial building here is taking the time to build a GOOD list.  We haven't talked substantially about list building, but it's important! People that win more games have both thought their lists out and considered what each piece does and how it affects their game, how it helps them to win.  Playing for fun is certainly something of value and worth doing (I've played some lists just for fun, and our meta has a standing tradition of every New Shipsmas day (like last Thursday, for example!) we play goofy 500 point games just to get all the new toys and try out every zany scheme you can think of.  I played a goofy Leia list with 7 ships in it and only one was a flotilla.) but if you're trying to be COMPETITIVE or play BETTER, you need to think about your list and how everything is going to be moving in tandem and all.

I know when I come to my game nights, I'm ready with my list and able to pull out the pieces I need.  I've played a few games (thankfully getting less of them as our meta gets better!) where I show up and I'm waiting on people to put a list together.  I try to be understanding, as not everyone is as obsessed with this game as Eric and I are, but I'd like people to show the same concern I give them.  Having your list READY when you come to the store or wherever you play is both a nice courtesy and allows you to have thought through what you want everything to do in the list.  We ALL only get 400 points, so make them count.

Now, I'm not claiming everything will work out as well as you think it will (that Leia list from last Thursday, for example!) but having a Plan (capital letter to indicate the importance of it, haha) will help you to do better and understand what you're going for with it all.  And that's how you get better, thinking about what you're planning on doing with everything and how it's all going to work.  Eric spent like 6 months practicing and considering his Ozzel list that won him one day at Adepticon, placed him 3rd a second day, and got him first at a store tournament a few months back.  Mike, our local friend who won the OTHER Adepticon day, has been playing a variation on his list for almost as long as he's been playing.  I spent a solid 2-3 months planning out my Ackbar list, making changes and adding and subtracting bits and pieces to get me the components I needed.  I'm not saying you need a squillion games, but you need to know what your list can DO and what it runs into trouble against.  You need to know how your list goes together and how it all works together to accomplish your goals.  More on this next time.....

(Very important side note: sometimes you come in to a game night where you think you're going to be doing one thing and you get ambushed into another (400 points becoming 500).  I think I've ambushed opponents with the 500 point thing 2-3 times and been ambushed a few times myself.  In that case, they SHOULD wait for you to rebuild or improve, as that's NOT the standard.  The time issue and waiting then is really on the guy who asks for the 500 instead of the standard 400 points.)
I SHOULD be waiting when I pull that BS on my opponent.  Try not to be angry as you're actually inconveniencing them.
So that was relatively painless for us! And most of it happens before you even show up to the table!  Before I sum up our 3 points, let's talk briefly about what I'm not covering here and why.
It'll be short, I swear!
1) How to deploy
I'm not covering this because this is an incredibly in-depth topic and what order to do things, what angles, what speeds, what direction, how close, where you plan on going, there's a SIGNIFICANT amount in deployment.  So much so that you can lose games by deploying badly enough (and hence why I don't pick Superior Positions too often, and why I should really STOP picking Fleet Ambush).  This deserves a full article, possibly even a series of them (MENTAL NOTE TO TALK TO ERIC ABOUT THIS GOES HERE, HAHA), but a) Biggs is going to get to it at Steel Squadron soon with his article series and b) this isn't the point of this checklist. Remembering/not forgetting dumb things.
2) What objective to pick
It's dependant on your list, your opponent's list, and what your other options are.  Eric did a whole bunch of good articles on them all, and I'd advise starting there, as that's (again) not the point of this checklist.
3) How to make that Plan (for what your list does)
We're not talking this because these are all GIGANTIC articles that are worth significant time and deep dives.  Best I can say is that Eric and I might get into this at some point? Eric might have an idea or two to throw out here, but I certainly have nothing to add to this, haha.  It's sort of related to what Eric had said earlier, about designing and trying it out.  Go read that, start there.
4) How to build a GOOD list
This is another giant topic that I don't want to get into here because a lot of this game is in how you pilot your ships and what you do and roll.  The best tip I can give you is that if you're new you should ask some of the established players in your area what they think of a list you created and how THEY  think it can be improved.  If you have good people in your meta, they'll want your interest and want to help you grow in the game and get better.  They won't want to push you away because they want new players to join them on Armada night.  If you ask them to take a look at your list, they might be able to help you eliminate some potential issues you'd experience and figure out the way to get you towards a better build for you.
There are times I wish this wasn't so true.

Side note to this: while Eric and I are extremely flattered that you guys think so highly of us that you want our opinions on your list, without knowing your meta there's not a hugely substantial amount we CAN add to your list and its build.  Best thing I can say is "read our articles and see what we recommend doing with each ship now" for a common or basic build that works well enough.  With wave 6 just arriving, we WILL be updating these ship articles with all the new stuff (Eric unluckily gets more work than I do here) and that may change some things here.  Eric and I can tell you if you have a BAD build, and I'll try to respond to any messages you send to me, but I can't promise punctuality (or responses from Eric, for that matter).  I don't want to say "Don't send us your list, we won't help you" but talking to your locals is WAY more helpful than asking us what we think.  They'll know what people are playing, what the common bids in your area are, what the general fighter component is, etc etc.
5) How TO get better
As pompous as the answer to this is, keep reading the blog, haha? Our articles (and almost all of those of Steel Squadron (Looking at YOU, Minister Tua fanfic....)) are written to help you guys improve your game and get better at using your ships correctly and how to build them better.  There's no surefire "Do X and git gud" button, but reading more and playing more are the only real things I can suggest here.
Or just add a pair of glasses and look a lot smarter

So now that we know what we want for the "deployment" section and what we DON'T want, let's sum it all up in 3 sentences that we can break down quickly to remember for this checklist.

1) Did I use a fleet builder (to ensure no math mistakes)?
2) Did I take time to build this list, ensuring proper thought went into it to address Eric's points?
3) Did I pull out the correct cards for the build I'm playing today?

Again, these seem really dumb! Who would forget the right cards? I DID! The benefit of what we have so far is that (if you perform 1 and 2) we really only need to remember that 3rd question when we bring it to the table.  Heck, you could write in sharpie on whatever toolbox you store your ships and cards in the phrase "CHECK YOUR CARDS" and that's not a note that the TO can ding you on.  Just make sure that you HAVE them all when you put your fleet together for the game.

Simple enough, no? We're going to have to step our game up during the next time I write for this topic, related to the start of each turn.  It's good to have it all together for an easy start, of course.  Well we'll see how it goes.....
Hamilton quote! Took me an entire post, but it's not ALL Simpsons jokes. Time to take a victory lap nap

1 comment:

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