Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Learning from Losing 2: How to Git Gud, Scrub

Now, the key to a successful post is to ensure that your headline GRABS your readers and makes them want to read it.  This post originally came about as a result of me noticing something with a few of our local players, and I felt this was worth developing into, if not an article, well, a thinkpiece at the very least.
Don't look like trash when they're looking like class
So, let's first talk about what I'm talking about.  The common refrain online when people ask about a list or how to beat it is for someone with experience in the game to yell "git gud, scrub!" at them.  In the Armada community/forums, it's become a running joke in that no one actually means it (well, I haven't encountered someone who wasn't using it sarcastically as a response).  So your attempt to figure out some sort of deeper aspect of the game is being told to try harder; THEY (the person you're asking) can beat it, why can't you?  (Aren't you glad you asked for help?)
Doctor Vader has a prescription for you being so dang whiny
But the reason I bring that all up is to point out a fact or two with regards to Armada.  It is NOT an easy game.  You can (and I have!) lose on deployment.  You can lose when a better/more polished list than yours goes up against you.  You can lose when a better PLAYER goes up against you.  You can lose when multiple things happen, some of them completely out of your control, some of them in your control.  How do you learn from losing?

Well, let's all thank Eric for both writing this previous article and letting me reference it!

Consider this article a continuation/a part 2.  The reason I write this post is that I've seen several of our local players try something new (squadrons they haven't used before, like Phantoms or TIE Bombers) or a new ship for them (Raiders? Hammerheads? Is John referencing Hammerheads? YOU KNOW HE IS!!!) and it either fails or doesn't perform as expected or your opponent's dice rolled hot or yours were cold, or what have you.  Something went bad, and you either lost, or the ship/squadron/objective/commander failed you/what you needed it to do.

Let's pull a few examples here.  I CAN build my Hammerheads to have both Flight Controllers and Expanded Hangar Bays to throw 2 squadrons with an extra blue dice.  Aw yiss, time for killing.  Truthiness tried this, it did not work.  I appreciate his efforts enough to not try them.
And then I stole the ways that did.
Furthermore, I can build my Liberty LMC80 to fling 4 squadrons with those Flight Controllers again.  Awww yiss, twice the squadrons, everything's gonna be great! (It steers like a slightly better VSD, I can already tell you not to do that).  Theoretically, you can build Yavaris to turn on a dime (Nav Teams), fire 4 red dice out the front (Spinal Armaments) and ensure that those dice do solid damage (Intel Officer).  But WHY did you build it that way?  You can build your ships badly.  That is a thing you can do (and I have! More often than I care to disclose!).  And that may cause losses.  Learning to recognize that is a good skill, and it's one thing that Eric and I try to do with a fair amount of the articles.  "I tried the Assault Pelta as a short range black dice brawler with Engine Techs! It was very bad, don't waste a game doing this."  If that helps you, then I've done my job well (as much as I can call me not getting paid to write this a job).  The task I had assigned that ship (Carrier Hammerhead/Liberty, extra murdery FROM THE SHIP Yavaris (instead of from squadrons)) was not the best way to get the best use out of that ship.  This is why my common comment is to improve something that a ship is good at instead of fixing it's "issues" and why I don't recommend putting Enhanced Armaments on a Nebulon B (beyond the expense, of course)

Sometimes, though, you can build everything right, bring a great list, and you may still lose.  The key is identifying those moments and understanding WHY you lost.  Maybe you got outplayed? Maybe your opponent has seen this build or trick of yours before, and has learned what to do in order to counter it?  Maybe you deployed too fast, too slow, deployed things in a way that your opponent could exploit the way you set things up (Example: putting Demolisher down first in the middle of the board against an Ackbar list, so I deploy sideways in order to side arc you). Maybe your opponent is incredibly cautious until he's suddenly NOT cautious, wrecking the trap you were setting for him.  Again, read Eric's article (I link to AGAIN!)
I will make as many Roadhouse jokes as I can.
What am I talking about here? Well, the easy example here is that I want to say that several of our locals were trying some builds out before they settled on their current Regionals lists.  I want to encourage them (and you, Constant Reader!) to experiment, to try some new things.  A few of our guys were trying some Sloane builds before they settled on their lists, and either they ran into my squadrons fleet (which was designed to fight squadrons and end that fight first) or Eric's Regionals fleet (which, also, was designed to fight squadrons).  Not a great environment to learn in or test something in.
In this case, the forge represents Raider flak.
However, Eric and I have both lost games at Regionals to Sloane lists we hadn't expected (Eric from a list he wasn't expecting, me because I neglected to prep for it, herp derp derp).  This post is me encouraging them (and you readers!) to keep trying things.  Don't base assumptions around one or two games; it takes me at least 5 games before i know a list and if it's good or not.  Coincidentally, this is also why any updates to the blog are going to take a solid month or two for the Wave 7 stuff; we're getting this stuff the same day as you and working on learning everything from there.  It all LOOKS good, and we'll have to see how it performs in game.  And related to that, sometimes you have to try something a few times to get the subtleties to it.

There's always some solid builds that by this point people have settled on and don't need experimentation; the standard Yavaris build with Flight Commander and Fighter Coordination Team, the standard Ordnance Experts, Demolisher, and Ordnance Upgrade on the first Gladiator you add to a list, etc.  But!  We have the 7th fleet/Mon Cal Expeditionary Force coming out in Wave 7.  Admo might NOT be the default title you shove onto your MC30 if you can ensure you're going to be able to stay alive with it and get something out of those MC30s.  Maybe you want to try out the 7th fleet title with 2 Gladiators and an ISD to ensure that you just keep preventing damage.  And maybe that idea works! And maybe it doesn't!

Eric and I are of the opinion that there are very few bad cards in the game.  I can name exceptions, but that's not what this article is about.  What it IS about is that while some of these are specialized, it might take a bit of work to get to that point.
One inch punch, if you're a fan of Kill Bill 2
Armada is not a game where you can be given a list and succeed.  Not to be a snooty snoot, but you can give some of the best Magic players in the world a championship deck, a 5 minute explanation of how it works, and they can probably win with it.  You certainly CAN give me Eric's Regionals list, and I CAN see how it's supposed to run.  I don't have the time in RIGHT NOW to consistently win with it.  But if I wanted to? I'd be devoting the time to it to get good with it, but it'd still take a solid 25-30 games (IF I had ever played Imperial.  For me, it'd probably take at least a solid 50 extra to change my Rebel ways, haha) to get anywhere near close to UNDERSTANDING the list.  Eric's been running that thing for a solid year at least.  I'm probably NEVER going to get his level with HIS list.

But I've seen what those Raiders can do, man.  I know the fear of that list.
Nuke that list from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.
Because he's practiced with it.  Because he's learned what the list can and can't do.  He knows what Raiders are good at and what they aren't, what dice rolls they can and can't survive from what ship's arcs and ranges.  And it's the same thing with (general) squadrons, black dice ships, new ISD builds, that MC75 I'm getting, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Mandalorian fighters, heck, it's the entire reason I took Leia and Hammerheads to Regionals.  You NEED to practice with a thing to get good with it.  If you think the build on your ship is good (and if you have a good community of players and friends, they can offer some tips on either making it better or streamlining it/scrapping it (Flight Controllers Liberty)), then you need to try it out again.  Go out there, give it a shot.  Try.  Challenge some of your assumptions, but understand WHY you're challenging them.  And as Alfred said:
But if you give up on something because it lost the first game you played with it without understanding WHY it lost you that game? That makes you the TRUE SCRUB.  Understanding WHY your list lost and why your ship didn't contribute like you think it did is the best way to start getting actually good at Armada.

1 comment:

  1. Another good article, you sum up the pain and pleasure of Armada really well.