Friday, October 26, 2018

Too much time on my hands to think about X-Wing 2.0

 Still running 3x/week and running around a LOT at work this week as we had our Exchange server migration yesterday...  LOTS of work, most of it fairly mindless, giving me time to put some of my thoughts into order...

Dice stacking in v1 vs v2:  This was probably the biggest problem that the game itself had in the first edition.  Not nearly the problem it was in the current edition, but it is very early.  I do not THINK they will be painted into the corner like they were in first, but being cynical…  Well, at least only surprises are good ones I am told.  But when there were ships that had a 1 Agility that could 100% of the time dodge 3 Hits and have better than a 75% shot at just outright dodging a 4 Hit Attack?  Yeah, something had to change in a big way.  In second edition there ARE some things that can get decent stacks set up, but they are thankfully quite rare and REALLY expensive overall.  TIE Defenders and Phantoms come to mind.   Both have an almost artificial way to get an Evade token, allowing them to simply take the Focus Action to have the fully stacked Defense.  On the Defender with 3 Agility/Hull/Shield platform it means that even should you fail out one roll, it might well NOT mean that the ship just died.  The Phantom?  Well, 2 Agility and Shields backed by 3 Hull…  Not getting shot is the best for that ship I am finding.  Gone are the days that I could fly Whisper right at someone knowing that I’d have 4 Agility, Evade and Focus tokens and likely the Emperor’s “adjustment” of dice should I really need it.  But those ships, while GOOD are not simply dominating the events we are seeing now.  Both struggle against massed firepower, be it Ordnance via TIE Bombers or just plain guns from more ships on the tables these days.  4 TIE Strikers backed by a Shuttle or an Ace is a solid build.  And frankly terrifying to a lot of Aces without the passive Dice modification in this edition of the game.  Have not really seen many Large Ships…  The Imperial Shuttle (I am flying one finally, need to get mine painted to match the rest of my stuff), yes…  But the Rebel Falcon or Dash’s YT-2400?  Not really seeing them.  Not REALLY sure why honestly.  I suspect they are actually fairly good…  Just that the new Damage Deck’s Criticals are just terrifying and the cascade effect on those ships is FAR worse now.  Of course nerfing the major offenders including the Jumpmaster 5000 (ALL of them) helped a lot.  All around Turrets are gone, everyone is not like the Lancer Class from the first edition.  MUCH better rules for turrets I think.  But lacking the insane Defense stacking are they playable at all?  Guessing I will get to flying the 2400 at least.  It WAS the first ship my wife bought for me in the game, and I always liked flying it.  Even if it was alternately completely outclassed and completely overpowered…  Then back to simply outclassed, for the most part…

Action efficiency:  THIS was pretty much the thing that HAD to go.  Gone are the bulk of the passive modifications like Expertise.  Not completely gone of course, one of the lists I am flying right now:

FelWhisperSai2 (199)
Soontir Fel — TIE Interceptor
Lone Wolf
Ship Total: 56

“Whisper” — TIE Phantom
Collision Detector
Darth Vader
Ship Total: 75

Lieutenant Sai — Lambda-Class Shuttle
Fire-Control System
Director Krennic
Shield Upgrade
Ship Total: 68

This sets up what is probably the best action efficiency I have found so far in the game.  The Shuttle moves, Coordinates say a Focus to another ship.  This gives the Shuttle a Focus as well.  Then the Shuttle gets a Lock (without having to be in Range of the Target) again for free.  The TL gives bonuses to the ship I have made the “Optimized Prototype”, allowing me to strip shields or flip Damage Cards without having to actually hit the target…  Whisper of course gets the Evade from De-Cloak, gains an Evade if she Hits the target, likely has Focus from the Shuttle, Vader has the Force point that might be used to strip tokens or just push Damage.  Then she has Juke to flip an Evade to a Focus.  And as Vader has likely already stripped the Focus token…  And if she has not used all of her Evades, she gets to Re-Cloak at the end of the Turn to do it all again.  Fel?  Still the Arc Dodging PTL (light) Ace…  He can get the Focus free if he has ANY enemy in his Bullseye Arc, and that is surprisingly common…  Well, in the HUGE sample size I have myself (4 actual games of v2).  Still pretty darn good.  Hard to block a lot, and the Shuttle itself is probably up there with “Most Improved” ship in this edition.  Jam, Reinforce, Coordinate actions?  On the big Hull…  Should note I am actually gaming the system a bit by adding the Shield upgrade to kick the Shuttle up to 11 total Health.  Have to get 6 Damage to get the half points on the ship.  And half points on EVERYTHING is actually how I am seeing a lot of games being resolved these days.  Mind, Agility 1, so not like LT Sai is dodging all that much, but to be honest if they concentrate THAT much on the Shuttle my Aces should tear them apart.

What looks like it is going to the top so far:  While some are (I suspect) incorrectly saying that the “Meta is solved”…  I think that there ARE some things that are rising to the top for now at least.  And it has become evident that SOME things are perhaps under costed…  In my own lists, Juke is just stapled to the TIE Phantoms and Defenders.  For 4 points it is just too good NOT to take.  And any time you have to have some really compelling reason NOT to take an upgrade, it points to an issue I think.  Things like Supernatural Reflexes, Trajectory Simulator and a few of the ships themselves are I suspect due to hit the point cost elevator a the first “revision”.  And that there WILL be regular revisions of the game itself does make me hopeful at least that there will be a lot more longevity in this edition and there are not long periods of certain things absolutely dominating the competitive Meta…  Yes, casual play in local stores is not really affected, but that only works so long as ALL of the players abide by the self-imposed restrictions.  Once one or more bring the “netlists” that define the top tier of the competitive Meta, the system breaks completely.  And a lot of the “casual” players stop coming out to play which does have the effect of killing the local scene…  I suppose I put myself in more of the “Competitive” camp as I do enjoy the local Store Champion type events…  But I do also like the local scene.  With the FFG official alternate formats coming up perhaps there will be a bit of both in the future…

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Random Motorcycle/Tariff thoughts and X-Wing v2 building...

So, go to thinking a bit about Tariffs recently as apparently we are in another cycle of such things now.  As I specialized in the “Industrial Engineering” side of Mechanical Engineering when I went to school in the ancient times this was something that came up as we were just getting out of the 80’s and into the 90’s at the time.  Now, looking at the situation in as unbiased a fashion as possible there are a few factors that you must account for.  Specifically, the United States has “Anti-Trust” laws that are lacking in many (most/all IIRC) of our competitors.  So, for instance we have company “X” that produces say, motorcycles.  They are unable to share ownership of say, Steel Mills, Coal Mines, etc. with those companies in any significant way.  Not so for say a Japanese company or Keiretsu.  That is essentially a group of companies that share a common ownership and purpose.  This allows the overall Keiretsu to achieve a profit MUCH easier as they have no need to achieve profitability at any specific level (thinking of manufacturing process as the various levels that these companies exist at).  So, competitive advantage taken to extremes.  Now, I used motorcycles as an example because I have only ever owned Honda motorcycles.  So, these tariffs would be why my Silverwing had a 497cc engine and my Goldwing technically has an 1196cc engine.  My Goldwing is a 1984, so they also got around restrictions by assembling the bike here in the United States, technically making it an American manufactured motorcycle for the purposes of Tariffs…  Now, where this example falls apart is that while TECHNICALLY there were American manufacturers (Harley Davidson being the largest) at that time, they were manufacturing absolutely terrible bikes, so the protection for American jobs was good and all, but they were producing horrible bikes, so probably should have failed sooner than they did…

Ah, but back to X-Wing…  Mostly just theory crafting at the moment as I am just not getting out to play all that often.  The girl’s big Show Choir fundraiser event was this last weekend and there was simply no time for anything else and frankly I am still exhausted from that.  Good cause I suppose, and the new Choir Director is FAR more involved with the kids and there is actual excitement and people coming back to the program after the last few years just bleeding people off…  But silly real life interfering with the whole gaming thing for me J 

Rebels:  A few lists I am looking at, Luke Skywalker in his X-Wing loaded out with Proton Torpedoes and the “But, I’m a Jedi and the Rules Do NOT Apply” card (Supernatural Reflexes) means he CAN line up on say, Whisper and just erase her with his Torpedo shot.  She has at most 2 Agility, he is likely to get 4 Hits/Crits so the math is pretty bad for the Phantom here.  And the Phantom is fragile.  Back Skywalker with Sabine in her Attack Shuttle and the pocket “Advanced Sensors” for loads of extra actions and Nora in the Y-Wing to just be a Tank…  Solid list, but pretty unexciting and nothing there which really has good answers to things like the stupid Trajectory Simulator Bombs, massed Torpedoes, etc…  So, solid and PROBABLY will do well, but looking like there are simply some things that are going to be hard counters for it.  Frankly not a lot standing out for me in the Rebel faction at the moment.  NOT to say they are bad, just that nothing that suits my play style at the moment…

S&V:  Fett is STRONG in the current edition.  Probably too strong frankly.  But will I feel bad flying that ship for at least the first few events?  No.  I flew the Firesprays for a LONG barren stretch in v1, so now that the worm has turned, so be it.  Emon is frankly the one I am looking more forward to flying and I suspect that my dual Firespray list will appear again with Kath being replaced.  Emon was one I tried REALLY hard to make work in v1, but the chassis was just THAT bad.  Now, he is looking quite solid with the potential infinite Proton Bombs getting chucked with the 1 or 3 Templates…  Fun, but probably not overly competitive.  But fits my style, so…  Other than that?  The Mandalorian Fangs are solid, just like the TIE Interceptor, so they’ll hit the table for me.  And as I HAVE 3 now, I can go swarm(ish).  The Star Viper is awesome and loads of fun.  Have a swarm of them, so they are more that WILL hit the table for me…  But all in all, I think S&V is more fun than competitive.  I DO think they have a fighting chance to win anything that is not artificially limited (like Corresant), but the Imperials are just a bit stronger overall I think.

Imperials:  So, what I HAVE flown the most so far.  The TIE Interceptors are amazing.  Cheap, fragile and you live and die by your Agility Dice, but fun to fly.  The Phantoms are likewise strong and I do suspect a BIT too strong.  Coming in ~ the same point cost as an X-Wing, they are just better on the table in my experience and so I suspect they’ll be adjusted upwards in cost.  But they are FUN to fly.  Not the overpowered sledgehammer they were in v1, but flying with finesse, skill and caution they hit hard and live long enough to get the job done.  Fragile as Hell though, so if they DO get caught, they will not likely survive.  Otherwise?  I’ve been flying the continuation of my v1 list with the Reaper with MAJ Vermeil with the Phantom and Interceptor.  Solid, fun list.  Other things I have flown or looked at seriously are the Defenders and the Punisher.  Have flown the Defenders, and they are a blast.  EXPENSIVE as Hell, but worth every point.  Stupidly resilient and just fun to fly.  The Punisher is one I got to see in action on streams.  The Trajectory Simulator and Redline’s ability to get fully modified Proton Torpedoes is just WAY too good, so another on the points elevator I suspect…  I HAVE one of those ships, I tried to get it to work in v1 to no avail, but now?  Probably just too good and not really my play style overall…

Monday, October 8, 2018

"Reclassification" and X-Wing 2.0 thoughts...

Ah, continuing on the job search…  By now I suspect that through the various interviews over the course of the year I have met EVERY IT Director on Campus.  So, I suppose my name is getting out there and I AM getting interviews…  Which is great, just need to progress beyond that of course into the “offer” stage.  Selling my skill set and what I can bring to the new job.  Have the “merit badges” of the MS Degree, various technical certifications and the like…  Oh, and 25 or so years of verifiable experience in the IT industry ranging from “Programmer” to “Hardware Guy” to “Network” and “Management”…  So, looks good on paper.  Sitting in on the briefings regarding the change from Academic Professional to Civil Service has been… Interesting.  Frankly at my level, the only real concern I have is that my last title change was delayed several years (and THAT is the reason I am seeking employment elsewhere), so I’ll be on the lower side of seniority for the title I hold.  NOT a lot of others holding this title, so not really overly concerned about it honestly, but it IS a concern as seniority is extremely important on the CS side of the world.  Getting Reclassified actually gets me an additional 4 days of Vacation that I honestly can’t use in my current job, so nothing really lost there for me.  So, interesting times ahead it seems.  We are told over and over again that there is “no intention to come in and do a mass reclassification”, but as they did exactly that in Chicago to “poor” effect, there is no real reason to trust the State of Illinois in this.  Having learned long ago never to trust this State (ref: IL Nat Guard time J) I have less confidence they will not just “make it happen”.  Will absolutely suck for newer folks as Aps enjoy a lot better benefit package WRT sick and leave time at least, but for those of us who have been here a bit it will be a wash or actually slightly better in the case of us old timers who have been here 14+ years.

Thane Kyrell and others flipping Damage cards:  I suspect this will be the death of Large Based Ships in the game, or at least have a serious damping effect upon them.  They also look good as “finishers” for Aces with the ability to just get that one Damage through, then with flipping effects applying Criticals over and over until it removes the ship…  Assuming of course it is a Direct Hit, Hull Breach or the like that can do this.  Odds are pretty good, and as there are NO good Criticals in the v2 Deck and some that cause a cascade effect that will just destroy the Ship.  So, I have my “Rebel” Squadron more or less picked.

Imperial Squadron, I am flying mostly the same stuff I flew at the end of v1…  TIE Phantoms are REALLY good now.  The TIE Interceptor is risky, but if you are comfortable knowing that at any time you might just die….  Well, they are fast and powerful.  DO have the possibility that they just die to a single attack, so you have to dodge Arcs quite well.  The Reaper and the Punisher are both Medium Base ships now and they seem like the “anchor” ships for my “Ace(ish)” builds.  I fly the Reaper with Director Krennic like I have in the past and while it is NOT as stupidly broken as it was in v1, it is actually sneaky good I think.  Spending a Dice Result to flip a card here is as good I think as it is for the above listed Ships.  Adding Target Lock to the Reaper is actually surprisingly good…  And I fly with Vader crew on Whisper for added ways to do Damage or remove Tokens without having to resort to actually Attacking and you know pushing through the Damage in the traditional manner…  Vader forces them to CHOOSE to either lose the Green Token or take a Damage.  Mind, if they have no Tokens, they have already made that choice as in this edition 0 is NOT an option.  So, maybe one Damage gets pushed or they lose the Focus that they need to avoid the Juke on Whisper to cancel out an Evade result…  Either way is great for me.  Then I can cancel out a Result (Focus or Hit/Crit) to flip a Card before Damage is applied…  Might be no big deal or they might not have Damage Cards already, but if they DO…  Direct hit or Hull Breaches will just hurt.  A lot.  Yes, random draw and situational, but it works surprisingly well at taking down things like TIE Defenders or other Ace types with low Hull.  And for Large Bases?  They just melt under this.  And Col Vermiel on the Reaper for the follow up Attack?  Just brutal.  The Punisher serves a different role as a Bomb projector and Torpedo Boat…  But actually quite good in this Edition…  But as it happens I HAVE one from First Edition that I had mostly base coated in my Imperial Blue color scheme before figuring out that there was simply NO way to make the ship work under the old rules…  It really was just THAT bad…  But that has changed.  A LOT. 

I suspect that the Phantom and Punisher are both up for point increases come January which we are told will be the first major adjustment…  Force powers are pretty good as well, so suspect some of them might go up a bit…  But overall the game is in a MUCH better place and with the first few major events in the books it does seem that there is a fair number of good builds out there with nothing really too badly OP…