Thursday, January 31, 2019

Armada 2.0 Too! AKA John's Thoughts and Feelings

I want to do a thing, too!
Screaming into a void about how I want a thing? This seemed appropriate
So let's start with my original stated reason I was going to write this, the 2.0 Reboot.
Lazy jokes, even by JOHN'S standards
I'm fully in agreement with Eric about how every game eventually needs a reboot before its bloat overtakes what's good about it.  Right now we've got a squillion fighters and 50 ships (I should probably go count those, but my exaggeration works for proving my point).  There's so many DIFFERENT interactions between squadrons and ships and upgrades, but at the end of the day it boils down to "A shoots B, B uses defense tokens or dies."  That basic scheme works very well for the game, but with new upgrades and abilities and all sorts of things, there's a lot of interesting options and things I'd like to see.  I'm FULLY onboard Eric's "Squadron Upgrades" argument, as it lets me bring the Aces I want to see while still keeping the basic squadron fight less complex.

What this ALSO does, and what I'd like to see, is a restructuring of some points and abilities.  I love Han Solo.  I went as him for 2 Halloweens and to at least 2 movie premieres and a store championship.  Spoiler: your author is a nerd.
I mean, might even want to go so far as to say AuthorS....
But I hate Han's POINT COST.  He's good, but I'm personally not sure he's 26 points good.  He hasn't been errata'ed, and I doubt he would be, so the only way I can immediately see of getting him into the game more would be either running Sato (that's... AN option) or reducing his costs.

The other thing I liked about Eric's upgrade system is that we can re-spec some abilities.  Right now, Ten Numb can cause MASSIVE amounts of heartache if he gets 3 crits off with Adar and Yavaris.  But what if Ten Numb was a B-wing upgrade card that read something like "You may attack with one B-wing squadron rolling [Black][Black][Black] instead of its normal Anti-Squadron armament"? I'm making up examples, but this is a much easier way of keeping these aces in the game without having to deal with bubble effects and some of these BENT if not BROKEN abilities (Ten, Luke, Morna Kee, etc etc).  You can do similar things with upgrade cards that are not seen (Advanced Projectors) or incredibly overseen ones (Toryn Farr.  Hate to say it girl, but you're too good with squads), or you can adjust points in an app or something.

I'm not sure I'm fully onboard with ALL of Truthiness's changes (for the record, I like killing Bail, Strat Ad, and Pryce).  So long as I have a REASON to take Nebs (and Imps to take Glads), though, I don't mind giving up Yavaris and Demo.  Relatedly, you could adjust hull/defense tokens/shield amounts/dice changes with that 2.0/1.5 planning.  I like Salvation, but those dice are so swingy that it's hard to count them at ALL.

Speaking of adjustments and changes, how bout those Commanders? Right NOW, competitively, you see 4 Rebel Commanders (and if you're in Atlanta this weekend, one idiot running Leia): Ackbar, Rieekan, Dodonna, and Raddus.  You'll see occasional people trying stuff to make things work, and I'd like to think I'm at least Top Five of the Leia players in the World.
I'd like to thank Truthiness and Ninja for challenging me, Matt and Eric for helping with listbuilding, and Google Image search for finding me this when I searched for "trophy."
But right now, realistically, Mothma/Cracken/Madine/Leia/Garm/to an extent Sato are ALL in bad places.  Madine got sideswiped by Raddus, Garm is unexciting and doesn't get as much play, Sato is at the mercy of how well you can roll dice and trigger crits from it.  But Mothma/Cracken/Leia? Non-Rieekan MSU is so near death that the priest is already giving it last rites.  Mothma USED to be good, but with Strat Ad and Cymoons.... similar issues with Cracken, of course.  Big ships have gotten INCREDIBLY good at killing little ones that outflying your opponent isn't as easy/doable as it used to be.  I'd love for either some ability respecs, a reason to take Assault Frigates that isn't just me being contrary, or another small ship with Evades to come out for the 3 of them.  Not JUST because it would give me more Leia options, haha, but because it would give MSU more options (hopefully).

Let's not even talk about the death of Imperial MSU.  I have to be somewhere in the morning so I don't have the HOURS I need to talk about it, but I'll point you at this old article of Eric's.  Suffice it to say that I'd like MSU to be more real, but right now it continues to struggle.  Hopefully, maybe, SSD, question mark?  But right now, every Imperial fleet starts down 130 points with a naked ISD-I plus Ozzel.  If you want to upgrade both or either of those (and you should!), enjoy paying MORE than the THIRD of your list you just STARTED with.  Yeah yeah yeah, Sloane Quasars with Demo, sure.

I don't believe Eric and I are advocating for a full-on Armada grimdark reboot, where Luke "Punchy" Skywalker flies the Millenium Stabbening towards the Super Death Face Star Destroyer, graffiti etched with the word "HATE" across its bow.  I want XI7s and TRCs and Toryn Farr and Admiral Ackbar and Han Solo and Luke Skywalker and Hera and and AND.  There's a lot I still love about this game; heck, I still like squadron combat! But I can understand people's complaints and issues with the system.  I like the interactions of the ships, the upgrades, and the squadrons, but the system can be improved.  It can always be improved.  So let's talk about that new FFG OP system!

Click HERE to read about the changes!

FFG OP Plans?
So the article talks about new OP kits, which is pretty cool! And they've got a new system in place for naming things and what that all means for fancy levels of play, sure! And heck, they've promised to be more open about things to us.  I appreciate that all.

In fact, I really appreciate that Alex said "Fantasy Flight Games Organized Play was created as a way to build and grow gaming communities—to help players around the world meet other players, make new friends, and have fun playing the games you love. Years later, this continues to be our primary objective."

So weird that I have this pin stuck in here, it's like I might be coming back to this in a minute.


Armada Worlds in 2020 is going to be an Invite-Only event.

The only ways in, with that invite, that are mentioned in the article are:

Win a Regionals
Top 4 at Nationals (NOVA, last I checked)
Top 8 at GenCon (Eric and I made that this year, BUT)

So I would have been fine.  Even playing Leia, I would have made it.  But I put in HOURS of effort to drag Leia up there (which I liked, mind you), and while it was worth it, it was fun for ME.  End of the day, all that had happened was my placement was affected and I got/didn't get prizes for placement.

Under this new system, MY placing Top 8 pushes out someone else who wanted to go to Worlds.  What if this was someone's ONE shot into Worlds, and because i decided to roll up with Leia and he just didn't place as highly as I did (potentially without even playing ME!) he or she didn't get to go?
Wouldn't be the first time I caused someone apoplectic rage for playing Leia (waves at Truthiness)
Knowing now that my direct placement and how I do in a Regional or higher event can ENTIRELY affect if someone else makes it or not seems bad to me.  The "lottery" system from before doesn't seem great, and I'll acknowledge that, but I'm not sure about this new plan where only certain people get to go to Worlds.

TOing and Numbers
Let's talk about TOing an event, in an example Eric brought up to me earlier.  He's potentially TOing our Chicago Regionals in a few weeks, which I and the rest of our community appreciate (it MAY be someone else, but that's a story for 2-3 weeks from now).  But under this new system? WHY would he want to do that? He PERSONALLY gains no benefit from it other than slightly growing the Armada Community while removing from consideration one of the potential Regionals he CAN go to.  And lemme tell you, the Midwest isn't as chock full of Armada bros as you'd think.  There's roughly... oh, one Regional per state, and those states are far away.   Heck, Milwaukee didn't even HAVE one this year.

Then you have places like Canada or California, with their 2-3 Regionals per state/country, respectively.  So, only 2 Californians would get to go to Worlds potentially, out of the 20-30 who played in each of those Regionals.  They get to go to Worlds just like the guy who won the Hawaii regional because he was able to outplay his other (checks notes) three opponents.  Based on the current system and what I read from the article, this doesn't seem ideally designed or fair to me.
Hope you love Rieekan Aces, because it's what you'll be seeing!

Another concern with this, as I mentioned above, is that several Rebel commanders aren't "GOOD."  I've had a lot of fun with Leia, and I'll still run her, but the question often pops up (heck, I wrote an article about it!) "WHY AREN'T YOU RUNNING RIEEKAN?"

After this announcement, I'm asking myself that same question.  If attendance at Worlds (we'll get to why that's important in two sections, hold on a bit) is so important to me, why would I do anything but run a tweak on what's already still probably a broken bananas list? Why would I do anything when playing Rebel squadrons besides play the best way of winning Rebel squadrons? Because to me, FFG's announcement seems to say "Winning is all that matters if you want to get there."

I have FUN, actual enjoyment running Leia.  I've gotten good enough that our friend Jack has said "You've made me actually afraid of Leia" and I give myself decent fighting odds against a lot of fleets I run into (I'm an egotistical doofus, but I still DO).  But "Fighting Odds" don't get you to Minnesota (or even worse, Chicago/Adepticon.  Super cool that potentially the convention in my backyard is... going to not let me in.  Great).  Victories get you there, having "fun" doesn't.  So I expect to see even LESS of the wacky Admirals and stuff as people just start playing what leads to wins.  I'm not a Worlds Winner; I'm good at the game but also realistic enough to know that about myself.  But if I want to go, I have to go to Regionals loaded for bear with the literal deadliest thing I have.  And I can't run from a match; the minute you do that third round at a high table your opponent may literally come across the table at you, because you're not just trying to preserve your points/place highly, you're affecting HIS ability to get to Worlds too.

But let's say that you end up Round 3 against a friend of yours; let's use Eric in this example.  Eric and I are both top table, but he knows that Alex is playing Traveling Baseball (Eric's nightmare) the entire spring and summer and he can't go to Worlds because as a good father he understands how important this is to Alex.
He's not even MY kid and I have pictures of him.  That IS my hat, though.
What reason is there to stop Eric from playing a garbage game, "forgetting" to take shots, or navigating "badly" because he was just off his game that day? He can't go to Worlds, but HEYLOOKIT THAT, I placed first in this Regionals SO WEIRD RIGHT???

Now, honestly, neither Eric or I would do this, because that's full on garbage and you're a bad player/human being for doing it.  But I put nothing past other people.  You hang out with a Slytherin enough and you learn they're not always wrong.  And I can guarantee the first time there's a controversy about "Who won X Regional" that this is gonna get brought up.  That's not going to GROW any community I know of.

Community Building
So remember that pin we had all those paragraphs above?   The stated goal of FFGOP was, and I quote again, "to help players around the world meet other players, make new friends, and have fun playing the games you love."

My writeup of Worlds wasn't focused on the games; it was focused on the friendships I made and deepened there.  I became better friends with Nathan, Jack, Eric, and Nick BECAUSE of Worlds.  I met several people who I converse with at least every other day.  Worlds isn't something most of us attend/love because of the game, it's BECAUSE of that community.  We all get to geek out about Armada for 3-4 days together, talking about games we've played, catching up with this family of nerds we all know and like.  The Armada Community is one of the most non-toxic and inviting places I've seen, and it's FILLED with wonderful people.  The friends I made I don't even necessarily JUST talk Armada stuff with, I like hearing about their families and who they are as people.  After Day 1A last year about 30-40 of us invaded Stone Brewing and just took the place over with nerdery.  It was PHENOMENAL.  I got to experience basically the ending of Return of the Jedi.... well, without the Ewoks.
It was basically just like this.  I think that's me and Biggs here....
Now though? Man, I'll play whatever derpy crap IF I make it.  But that's one big if.  I'm good, but am I still Top 8 GenCon or Top 4 NOVA or REGIONALS WINNER good? Oof.  With the restriction of INVITE-ONLY, in my opinion, they're failing at number 1, "Help players meet other players." Restrictions don't help that.  I haven't even talked about what happens if/when a Regional winner can't make it, as what happens then? NO ONE KNOWS!

What about "making new friends?" You know, ALL those friends I met at Worlds and might not have the chance to see again elsewise? Yeah, that's a big failure, too.  So we're 1 for 3 here, "Have fun playing the games I love."  Great.  Can't wait to potentially not attend with several of the friends I've made along the way.

Potential Fixes 
As an engineer, I try not to complain about things without solutions (or just to complain, haha.  Well, not OFTEN!) so I've got 2 potential fixes in mind.  Without having the ability to peek behind the FFGOP curtain, I don't have the ability to make them read this or even change their minds or anything.  But I can't just do NOTHING....
The joke is sitting RIGHT THERE
The first (and potentially actually happening? The article didn't say and at this point it's just rampant speculation on my and everyone's part) is that we get more Regionals.  Right now, if we look at just the number of Regionals this year, there's 78 potential entrants into Worlds.  Last year and this year the total number of possible entrants was 100 (50 and 50 last year with about 10 drops a day, 100 total signed up for this year at Adepticon).  If they want to grow the game and bring in more people like they're saying, MORE Regionals is a good step towards that.  If I have the option to attend several of these and don't, that's AN easier pill to swallow (it still SUCKS, mind you) than the fact that my closest non-Chicago one is in Indianapolis, 3-4 hours away.  We go upwards in distance and time from there.

The other option that I know won't happen but hell, I gotta take my shot-
Yeah, it's a John article now alright.
Expand it.  Expand Armada Worlds.  Make it 120 players.  Make it 150.  We WILL fill it.  You WILL get your money for tickets, FFG.  Let us build the community.  Give us an Armada convention open to all.  LET ME MEET MY FRIENDS, DANGIT.  Let us grow the Community, let us try to do something to connect with each other.  If you want to have Worlds as SRS BSNS then give us a way to hang out together that's not as such.  Run the team tournament, the Task Force Format, some wacky spin-a-wheel and get a Commander thing, give us a FUN CONVENTION then.  The Armada community wants to grow and hang out together.  Please, I'm begging you, LET US.
Quack. Quack. Quack quack quack qua- aw, no Mighty Ducks cheer? Boo.


  1. Not to be an ass, but Armada gets exactly 0 mentions in the "Future of OP" article. The closest you get to a mention is "By 2020, the rest of our Organized Play World Championships will be invitation-only as well." Which doesn't say Armada is DEAD or anything, but no mention is made of it either (then again some other games aren't mentioned either). If you also think about how Armada Worlds got moved to a secondary location this year, I'm not super optimistic.

  2. Look forward to seeing you in Atlanta. I'll be the guy runnung Vader Interdictor.

  3. agree with most of this. However, does it occur to players in the US that Worlds could be at other places on the world? :)
    Thx for the article and blog, Neb