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Star Wars Armada: Thoughts on the Core

So the Core Set in Armada is pretty darn deep.  It’s got a lot of layers and interactions that really push my expectations for a “core” set.  Today I will write a bit about each ship and one upgrade for it that affects how it plays, as well as the two fleet commanders.

Victory Class Star Destroyer – I want to call it the cheese wedge but that might be a bit pejorative.  In the learn to play scenario it gets handled pretty rough but at 180 points things are a lot more even and this ship thrives.  It pushes a huge wedge of fear in front of it, about 120 degrees of hate.  Even its broadsides can cripple a corvette, especially if it took hits on the way in.  Adding the Enhanced Armament card gives it a massive broadside that will really force the rebels to step carefully even when flanking you.  The gunnery team just adds insult to injury by letting you fire from the same zone twice, albeit at a different target.  Both variants are nasty, and the squashed nature of the blue band makes the Victory I a really intriguing choice, especially with the assault missiles.

TIE Fighter – I like to call this a Space Inferiority Fighter.  The goal isn’t to dominate the fighter battle, it’s to prevent the enemy from capitalizing on his dominance.  These fighters will quickly get hacked from space, and while they might do as much damage as they take, they cannot take as much.  Their role is to protect and pounce on mistakes and that’s all.

Howlrunner – This is a real interesting card.  The way I’m reading it she doesn’t boost herself, and X-Wings likely have enough firepower to cancel her birthday real fast, so she really is best used sitting at range 1 from a blob of ordinary TIEs turning them into really nasty heavy hitters.  4 blue dice with a re-roll can wreck things.

Grand Moff Tarkin – Or as I call him, Grand Moff Token.  In a 180 point battle with one VSD he seems priced right at 38 points (a Corvette is 39) put three or four Imperial ships on the battle and he’s a freaking steal.  He gives so much flexibility to the Imperials that it’s insane.  Look Motti and Screed look good, but Tarkin has it all over them.  The Imperials don’t need to be tougher, or hit harder, they need to be able to make small adjustments that they couldn’t predict three turns out.

Nebulon B Frigate – At first I was really not feeling this ship.  It seemed like neither one nor the other.  I was half right.  It is neither one nor the other, it can’t brawl, it can’t snipe, but it can fence.  It has enough speed that it has to be respected, it has enough toughness that it can’t be alpha’d off the field (without a LOT of luck and poor management) and it can keep up the pressure with guns, fighters, and provide a healthy bit of support.  The upgrades here are all about the engineering team and Redemption title.  That’s a lot of engineering.  Your tokens are now worth 3 (can heal a hull point!) and the dial command can repair a shield, and repair a hull point.  That’s a LOT of fixing.  I’m not nearly as big a fan of the support version as the Escort variant.  6 points is not nearly enough for the lost anti fighter weaponry and losing control of a squadron as well.

CR90 Corvette – At first this ship seemed like a beast.  Cheap, blindingly fast, hard hitting, and it appeared fairly tough.  Until I compared it to the standard that mattered, the firepower of a VSD.  It can be alpha’d off the table even in the side arcs, and two rounds of fire will be enough to crush it.  You have to maneuver it perfectly to get the most out of it and I haven’t gotten the trick down yet.  Even getting into the rear arc doesn’t help much as I tend to go whizzing out of it the next turn.  That being said I have some ideas to put into play next time and we will see if I can get the hang of this mean little bastard.  Princess Leia is going to spend a lot of times hanging out on these little buggers.  They pick their command right at the start of the turn, and she can send it to one other ship.  Your Nebulon B needs to repair RIGHT FRIGGING NOW?  Leia’s on it!  Time to ensure you’ve got the firepower to crack that VSF?  Leia’s your gal.  Of course she’s a bit of a fire magnet so even though Electronic Countermeasures is expensive, it allows you to use that key Evasive card all the time, or ensure that you have Redirect when you eat that big shot at range one.

X-Wing – A real qualitative difference between the Rebellion and the Empire right here.  This fighter can win the Starfighter battle and carry through to do something useful with it.  Slower, Tougher, Harder Hitting, and MUCH more effective against starships this ship makes TIEs cry in the corner even costing more than 1.5x the TIEs cost.

Luke Skywalker – Nasty little bastard he is.  Underestimate him you should not.  His black dice when attacking large targets and ability to skip capital ship shields moves this squadron firmly into the “bomber” column.  Sure he can wallop TIEs as well as another X-Wing but you really want him dropping crits onto capital ships…

General Dodonna – … And this is why Dodonna has one of those “Wombo Combo” abilities.  This conniving bastard lets you turn over the top 4 damage cards WHENEVER you deal a face up damage card to an enemy and then pick which one to inflict.  Look the crits in this game are downright nasty, this card means you can REALLY ensure you get something your opponent will hate when you score one.  On turn 2.  Against a fully shielded VSD.  With Luke (Or with Dodonna’s Pride).

This is just a taste of the tactical depth this game has.  There’s other combos already possible that are just nasty, and looking ahead at the spoilers shown on boardgamegeek I can see even more that I’ll be using (I’m looking at you Yavaris and Adar Tallon, and Raymus Antilles, and Garm bel Iblis)

Raid Warning: On Radar

So right now my Hard Drive is a bit crowded. I’m going to talk about the major MMOs that I at least have installed, why I have them, and why you should consider them (if you should)

Get ’em While They Last

These are games that I don’t think will last very long for whatever reason.  These may or may not be bad games, but they are endangered for one reason or another.

Lord of the Rings Online

Where to start.  Look.  LotRO will be on my computer until they shut down the servers.  I love the game, I love the community, and I loved many of the devs who have worked at Turbine over the years.  But this game is heavily threatened on multiple fronts.  First off they are going to lose their license.  Right now I don’t think there is anyone as pissed off as Christopher Tolkien is with the licensing structure of his Tolkien estate.  So there’s that.  The player base continues to erode away under the winds of lackluster patches, no endgame content, buggy systems and overall disappointment.  I’ll make the march into Mordor with all the rest, probably through Cirith Ungol, but if this game is going 2 years from now I’ll be surprised and if it’s going 4 years from now I’ll be stunned.

I would recommend playing though.  You can see SO much detail and love for the world, and visit SO many famous locales that even if you are only a casual Tolkien fan you owe it to yourself to try it out for a couple months.

Star Wars The Old Republic

SWTOR has followed the development strategy of “Two steps forward, two steps back” ever since launch.  It’s a good game, it’s a fun game and the stories should be played through by any fan of the Star Wars expanded universe.  That being said the mouse is going to want a mint to extend the license and Bioware probably won’t see the value in doing that based on the money they are making.  There’s still plenty of players out there but if the mouse takes his cheese and goes away there won’t be a game, just more disappointed Star Wars fans.

This is another “Log in while it lasts” game.  Do you really want to miss the chance to force-choke people or steal an Imperial prototype out from under the nose of a Sith Lord?  I didn’t think so.

Planetside 2

Who makes this now?  Daybreak?  Who is that?  Oh.  Does anyone work for them?  Ouch.  This one will last longer than the rest but… Don’t invest a lot of time into it.

MWO

Notice how there’s a lot of big IPs involved?  Yeah this thing has been a massive disappointment.  I just patched it and while that was downloading I lost interest in actually playing.

I Should Log in More

World of tanks

WoT is offering a lot of bonuses right now so I actually am logging in every day.  I should probably play more though.  This is just a fun game to drop in and pew pew.  If you like it and especially if you have people to play with it’s worth the time.

League of Legends

This is another game that I can log into for 20 minutes, play a game or two, or drop 6 hours on in a binge.  It’s a fun game if you invest the time into it but my GOD is the community shit.

Chugging Along

World of Warcraft

Not logging in a whole lot.  The games in a great place, and it’ll be in a great place without me.  The problem with this run through isn’t that the game isn’t fun.  It is.  The problem is that you can do everything you want to do pretty fast and just don’t feel like you have to do a lot more unless you put in the time on alts.

The Secret World

Every time there’s a story I get excited, patch, and try to remember my login.  This game has SO much potential but whenever I play it feels janky and like there’s no plan for most of the fights.  The story is fun, even better than SWTOR in a lot of ways but the gameplay feels poor by comparison.

Star Trek Online

Another one of those “It’s worth logging in to take the tour” games, STO sets the bar low and revels in fan service, acceptable, if mediocre-to-average gameplay and capitalizing on a community that wants to make the game MUCH better with its robust fleet and foundry systems.  It would be nice to see more developer driven content, and there is some neat stuff on the horizon.  I spend a fair amount of time in the Alpha quadrant these days, albeit not as much as I probably should.

EvE Online

Unsubbed right now, maybe even for good, although I doubt it.  I just don’t ever feel like I’ve done anything when I log out.

The Time Sink

Final Fantasy XIV

FFXIV has become the time sink that EvE would be if I could get anything done these days.  I always have made progress in something and now that I’ve set some goals for myself I’m actually enjoying working through all the stuff I want to get done.  The game is a blast to play, visually stunning, the score is fantastic and the sound effects… the score is stunning!  The community is great with far more helpful people than dickheads even if the dickheads retain the ability to be incredibly annoying from time to time.

So that’s what’s on my menu right now.  How about you guys?

Winning

What do Hannibal, and Robert E. Lee have in common?

They lost.

They were also very unlikely to ever win.

Hannibal and Lee won famous, shattering victories. They won seminal battles and frequently dictated the course of entire campaigns if not wars with impunity for extended periods of time. They dominated the battlefield, imposing their will on the enemy. Yet they lost.

There were operational reasons they lost, Hannibal had no ability to breach the walls of Rome, or to besiege it. Lee never had the resources to force a major decision. But that wasn’t the extent of it.

They didn’t have the ability to string victories together to break the will of the enemy to fight like Scipio Africanus, or Grant and to carry through on their battlefield victories to conclude their wars.

Hannibal entered Italy and proceeded to destroy every army the Romans could scrape together time after time. To the point where the Romans more or less sat behind their walls and ignored the armies as much as possible. Hannibal could win all the battles he wanted but he couldn’t break Rome’s will.

Lee won victories just as devastating but he lacked the capability to string these victories together. On occasion he simply left the field and failed to seek a final decision, settling for driving back the Federal armies, but he never could turn A victory into victory for his “country”.

The US has won nearly every battle in the Vietnam War, and in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet at the end of our contribution to the Vietnam war the North Vietnamese overran the south at about the same speed as they could drive through it. Iraq is as stable as a 3 year old doing cocaine and it’s an open question whether the current regime in Afghanistan could hold a PTA meeting let alone the determined Taliban offensive that is in the offing. We are a great nation for winning battles but we have forgotten that you have to win the war. We assume that if you score enough points time will run out and you can dump the gatorade and go hit the showers.

To win you have to set your goal and work backwards. Hannibal knew he had to take Rome but once his siege train was lost in the Alps he never reconstructed it (and it might not have done any good against Rome’s walls) and Rome is a rather hard city to besiege. Lee never could make the assault on Washington DC or destroy a Federal Army enough to let him inflict serious damage on the North to force a decision, instead scoring victories then letting the Union lick its wounds until the next time. America hasn’t set a goal since wrapping up the show on the U.S.S. Missouri and since then we have spent a lot of time accomplishing very little.

“But Corelin” I hear you ask “This is a gaming blog. Why are we talking about this stuff?”

Because it’s my damn blog! GET OFF MY LAWN.

And because it’s important in gaming. Sun Tzu famously said “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” I realize quoting him is a bit pompous. You may have read my blog before, it happens. Hannibal, Lee, and every US General since Ike put down his stars has forgotten this lesson. They go into battles prepared to win but not wars.

EvE Online has seen this as well. When I was in CoW our “Planning” was lucky to get 20 people with the right ships/fights in anything like the area we were fighting in. The Russians on the other hand were famous for getting the ever living snot knocked out of them for months then suddenly winning the whole damn war. Goons take meticulous planning to the level of any modern organization to turn their cavalcade of clumsy cohorts into a well-oiled machine. Admittedly a steampunky, lurching, “who knows what that bit” does machine but it gets the job done.

When you are getting into a game you need to set goals, and you need to at least be able to figure out how to reach them. FF XIV has lots to do and it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by choices. EvE has an even bigger menu and higher bars to leap to get there. Minecraft is a mind boggling game with nearly infinite possibilities (your world is about the size of Neptune) where you can get lost for days until you realize what you want to do, or just give up.

On the tabletop you are given objectives. You know what you have to do to win you just have to do it. And keep your opponent from doing it. The same rules apply though. Just because you have an objective doesn’t mean you are past step one. You have to define the objective in a way that your force can accomplish it, and hope they can. You have to plan what you will do to overcome your opponents moves and then you have to execute.

Have a plan. Stick to it. And let me know if you want me to write a post on how Lee was a terrible General.

Ain’t no Drama Like Trailer Park Drama

So one of the truths of life is that people fight harder over the littlest shit.  My mother was a family practice attorney for a long time and divorces involving well off or rich people were usually bloodless and passionless.  When you saw an address listing a trailer or lot number though…  Woah baby.  Shit is about to go down.  She told me about a couple that was going claws out crazy over a $5 pot from Wal-Mart.  Keeping two lawyers (being paid 3 figures by the hour) and at times a mediator who cost even more.

But what does this have to do with EvE?  Well… Lowsec is the trailer park of EvE.  There’s nothing great in it, the people might be great people but none of them are changing the world.  And when these guys get their sandcastles rustled… Shit goes down.  Tempest in a teapot doesn’t begin to describe it.  Hurricane in a shotglass.  Cat 5 time.

The biggest dramastorm I have ever had to endure involved a lowsec alliance torn apart over some bullshit.  We had a nice high rarity moon that we basically held on sufferance of some local heavy hitters with R&K being the final arbiter of injustice.  None of us were getting much money, and Aridia is famous mostly for being a desolate hinterland in a game where 90% of lowsec could be used as a dictionary definition of “Desolate Hinterland”.  One corp decided they wanted a direct cut rather than just some vague promise of help in the future from money being thrown into the warchest.  So they did what politicians have done since time immemorial, they promised this money to everyone over and over and lied about the guy in power.  It tore everyone up.  Our corp had no doubt about who we backed, but watching the process play out was agony.  Over nothing.  This wasn’t a system with 20 tech moons.  It was one moon.  It was some lines over who got credit for what.  It was egos and preening and garbage and e-honor.  It was a $5 dollar vase that tore up thousands in time and tears.

At its worst lowsec is a screaming redneck family tearing each other apart over stuff you wouldn’t pay a buck for at a yard sale. But it’s not all drama, and it’s not all bad.  More on that later.  Fly dangerous, score kills.

I'm using it every time I can

I’m using it every time I can