Tabula Zero
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I play a lot of deathmatches (p.14 of the Reference documents - Optional Rules / Unlimited Rounds) and I do not like the alternating initiative rule. I think it gives too much of an advantage to the side with most ships as you can always start by moving your irrelevant ships first to force the other player with less ship to also move his.

I am using the following alternative rules:
- each ship is identified by a token. We are using a spare set of numbered token that comes with the core box.
- at the beginning of the turn, all tokens of active ships on the battlefield get put in a cup.

Step 1: a token is randomly selected from the cup. Its owner activate the corresponding ship.
Step 2: the other player gets to activate a ship of his choosing in reaction. He starts by removing the corresponding token from the cup.

Repeat step 1 and 2 until all token are drawn.

For the squadron phase, the player with initiative is the player with most squadron on battlefield. In case of a tie, the player whose ship was drawn first has initiative.

Edit: in response to Justin, you can also use ship class tokens instead of individual tokens. When you draw the token, you need to activate one of your ship belonging to this class. You get to chose which one. This gives you a bit more flexibility and allows you to fly tight formations.
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Re: Alternative Initiative Rule
Another way to remedy the issue is that a player has as many activations as the side with the most ships. The side that does not have the most ships has "passes" which they may optionally use when it is their turn to activate. Once the sides have an equal number of ships remaining to be a tivated, initiative alternates again, and no further passes may be used. Using tokens in an appropriate number to keep track would be a good a idea. This way, both players retain tactical control over when and in what order their ships activate. You can do the same thing with squadrons.
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Justin Hare
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Re: Alternative Initiative Rule
This would punish fleets based around tight formation flying. The 2x Assault Frigate build relies on flying tight together and in a line. The formation would be punished with a 25% chance of having to run into each other.
 
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Tabula Zero
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Re: Alternative Initiative Rule
If that is a problem for you, one simple work around would be to create tokens by ship class and put them in the cup.

You draw the token, you must activate one of your ship from this class.

We are being lazy and not artistically inclined, so we use the numbered token instead we have in spare. It's the easiest solution we've found

For what it is worth, we have found that this variant tend to re-balance the game toward carrier-based lists a little.

Having a ship heavy vs a squadron heavy list still tilts the odds in your favour (you get more activations per turn) but not anymore in such a straightforward manner.
 
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Tabula Zero
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Re: Alternative Initiative Rule for deathmatches
If you also happen to have alternative initiative rules, please post them here...
 
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Chris Marlow
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Re: Alternative Initiative Rule for deathmatches
Our group is unanimously against the standard initiative system, where the lowest points fleet always goes first. I think it is the only serious design fault in this marvelous game.
Experience from other alternating unit activation games, such as Dust, shows that you get a far more exciting game, with some real nail-biting decisions, if you don't know in advance who will start each turn.
The system we use is that each player rolls a D6 at the start of the turn, and the winner decides to move first or second.
On the first turn, the scenario is chosen by mutual agreement, and the player moving first deploys the first unit.

The big issue with this system, of course, is that many of the scenarios are designed to favour the second player, to compensate for the other player going first every time.
We have adjusted most of the scenarios to remove this advantage as much as possible, for example in Opening Salvo both players get 2 dice of their choice.
However, scenarios like Fleet Ambush, Hyperspace Assault, and Superior Positions require more radical change. We either give more points to the disadvantaged player, or a major increase in his victory points.
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Justin Hare
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Re: Alternative Initiative Rule for deathmatches
Tabulazero wrote:
If you also happen to have alternative initiative rules, please post them here...


I don't have a good one, but I have also been happy with the initiative system.

The suggestion about doing it by class almost removes the benefit that you are trying to get initially. I will just run 2xFrigate, 3xVSD, 4xGlad, 5xCorvette, 3xNeb.

I'm not begrudging anyone a try to fix something they find imbalanced. I will help try to pick holes in their solution so they can fix it and make it more thorough.
 
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Re: Alternative Initiative Rule for deathmatches
marlowc wrote:
Our group is unanimously against the standard initiative system, where the lowest points fleet always goes first.

That's not really how it works, though. The lowest point fleet chooses whether they want want to (always) go first, or to benefit from the (substantial) advantage given by the mission objectives. It's a self-balancing act insofar as the "value" of getting to choose is determined, in the long-term, by bidding.

Quote:
The big issue with this system, of course, is that many of the scenarios are designed to favour the second player, to compensate for the other player going first every time.

Not "most" - all scenarios are designed that way, even if only implicitly. Plus the second player gets to narrow down the scenario choices to the three that favour him most to begin with.

Nothing wrong with playing with your own houserules if they improve your game experience, but I don't think it's fair to call Armada's delicately balanced initiative system a "serious design fault" .
 
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Tabula Zero
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Re: Alternative Initiative Rule for deathmatches
For clarity's sake, my group tend to play without objectives cards (what we call a death match) whereby we line our fleets and go at it for 6-7 turns. The one who destroys the most wins.

While I agree that there is indeed some thought as to balance when you use the objective cards, in a deathmatch situation (which by the way is also an official way to play the game as per the rules)... I find the current system a bit lacklustre.

p.14 of the Reference documents - Optional Rules / Unlimited Rounds

Unlimited Rounds
Players who want to play a death match to the bitter end can use this rule. The game does not end after the sixth round; instead, the game ends only when all of one player’s ships are destroyed. Do not use objectives when playing with this rule, but place obstacles as normal. In addition, at the end of each round, the player with initiative gives initiative to his opponent by passing the initiative token to that player.
 
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Re: Alternative Initiative Rule for deathmatches
For the record, my favourite initiative/activation system ever was the one used in Confrontation / AT-43.

In these games, you would secretly decide the activation order of your units at the beginning of the round (via a stack of unit cards), with limited ways to alter it during the round. Then there was a bid for going first, but the command points you spent on getting the first activation could not be spent later to adjust your unit order if things went south.

It would probably be quite feasible to adapt this system to Armada. Whether it works as well for this game is another story.
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ElDiabloAzul wrote:

Nothing wrong with playing with your own houserules if they improve your game experience, but I don't think it's fair to call Armada's delicately balanced initiative system a "serious design fault" .


My beef is not with the balance, or otherwise, of the standard rule - I think it's a brave attempt to introduce some asymetry into the game.
No, the problem is that it means the same person goes first every turn. In my experience you get a more exciting game if you don't have this.
Does anyone know a good AA game which doesn't randomise the first activation of the turn?
It is perfectly possible to introduce asymetry using the scenarios, so in pure design terms I think it is a mistake, although a well intentioned one for sure
 
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While I don't disagree with you, I find that "exciting" and "strategic" seldom go hand in hand.

Unlike many other miniature games, Armada is primarily an exercise in careful long-term planning, with very little left to chance.

Randomised initiative is probably the single worst wargame mechanic in my book. When you have a dozen units on the table, initiative isn't such a big deal. But with 2-4 per side, it's just way too swingy. While dozens of attack rolls will generally balance out over the course of a game, in a 6-game turn with few units, like Armada, winning init 4 times (or simply during the 3 turns where it really matters) pretty much guarantees you will win against an equally-skilled opponent.

Now a bid system, on the other hand, can mean activation order is both uncertain and fair, because whoever goes first is paying some form of penalty for it.
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ElDiabloAzul wrote:
While I don't disagree with you, I find that "exciting" and "strategic" seldom go hand in hand.

Unlike many other miniature games, Armada is primarily an exercise in careful long-term planning, with very little left to chance.

Randomised initiative is probably the single worst wargame mechanic in my book. When you have a dozen units on the table, initiative isn't such a big deal. But with 2-4 per side, it's just way too swingy. While dozens of attack rolls will generally balance out over the course of a game, in a 6-game turn with few units, like Armada, winning init 4 times (or simply during the 3 turns where it really matters) pretty much guarantees you will win against an equally-skilled opponent.

Now a bid system, on the other hand, can mean activation order is both uncertain and fair, because whoever goes first is paying some form of penalty for it.


I think we may have to agree to differ here We seem to each have very different game preferences, which is of course an excellent thing.
I look for fun, absorbing gameplay, replayability, a good degree of randomness, and elegant rules design in a game. A test of skill, beyond a certain fairly basic level, is not desirable.
In fact, amongst a group like ours that play each other regularly, it wouldn't make for an enjoyable session if the same couple of people won every time. We don't play chess anymore for this very reason




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Fair enough - I completely understand your perspective.

Me, I like Armada because it offers a very deep and challenging engagement, with many complex decisions, in a relatively short time-span. I like that each small decision has serious consequences down the line, and that I can curse my bad planning, rather than the dice, when things go pear-shaped. I like that the choice of 3rd command dial on my VSD, made before the game even begins, is vastly more important than any attack roll. And I like that, after the game ends, I can learn from what I did right and especially from what I did wrong.

Don't get me wrong, I love light, fun, random games too, but I like them short. I hate playing a 3-hour game that's ultimately decided by good or bad die rolls. Though co-op games sometimes get a pass even if a good strategy gets ruined by a poor roll at the very end
 
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ElDiabloAzul wrote:


Me, I like Armada because it offers a very deep and challenging engagement, with many complex decisions, in a relatively short time-span. I like that each small decision has serious consequences down the line, and that I can curse my bad planning, rather than the dice, when things go pear-shaped. I like that the choice of 3rd command dial on my VSD, made before the game even begins, is vastly more important than any attack roll. And I like that, after the game ends, I can learn from what I did right and especially from what I did wrong.


I love Armada for these very reasons also I think they have really hit the spot with this game, it has those agonising, longterm choices, especially with the cumbersome ships (my fleet almost always includes 2 VSD's), and yet the dice rolls can also be crucial.
It's great to find that you are still learning from each game, and can chop and change your fleet without having to shell out wads of money for new models.
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