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Subject: Tried base campaign twice - two Imperial steamrolls. Is Return to Hoth better? rss

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John E
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Twice now I have gotten about 5-6 missions into the base IA campaign, with two different groups. Both times it has become clear that the heroes just weren't having much fun getting stomped over and over by the Empire. And it wasn't much fun for me either as the Imperial player honestly.

They might be able to start to turn the tide if they try to power through it now that they have some Act II items and some of their higher xp abilities. And my most recent group has decided to at least try to stick with the campaign for now (we just did Fly Solo last night). But is it fair to ask the players to slog through 5-6 games of getting smacked around before they start to feel as though they have a chance at winning?

I haven't even been using all the tools at the Empire's disposal. I haven't bought upgrades or agenda cards for the last 2 missions and I didn't use my Supply Deficit reward card in the last mission.

The players in the last game decided they weren't bum-rushing the objective enough so in Fly Solo they went all out for the door at the back.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Little did they know that once they opened it it would spawn elite stormtroopers, an elite officer and IG-88 in addition to all the enemies that they had ignored in order to get to the back door. Poor Han Solo never had a chance. How in the world is he expected to make it all the way back to the entrance when he starts off exhausted and then has to run a gauntlet of enemies with only 12 hp? At least they opened the door before the end of round 3 so they got the mini-reward of 100 extra credits per hero and it denied me an extra influence.


Some of the statements heard around the table:
"I wish it felt like we even had a chance."
"They probably figured the Imperial player would be the one buying the game and addons so they made sure he wins."

So does anyone have words of encouragement for my players? Can they start to claw back? Neither they nor I want to me to start playing sub-optimally to give them a chance. Is the problem the imperial upgrade and agenda cards and if so has anyone tried playing without them? I used subversive tactics in my first campaign and am using military might in my current one.

I know that the first campaign in Descent (the shadow rune) isn't the best and each release was better and better. Should we just scrap this and try Hoth or wait for Jabba's realm?


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Nick T
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The combo of A New Threat followed by Fly Solo can be brutal.

Take a look at some of the base game Play By Forums that are completed. More often than not, the heroes tend to dominate. Part of this may be players that have played missions before, but I think it's mainly due to strong tactical play.
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Bertrand Furcas
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I started winning more games as the rebel heroes when I understood I could take strain to move up to two squares without spending any action.

Maybe there's something they're missing?
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John E
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FeyrBert wrote:
I started winning more games as the rebel heroes when I understood I could take strain to move up to two squares without spending any action.

Maybe there's something they're missing?


I don't think they are missing anything. All the hero players in both campaigns have been quite experienced and I always make sure they know and take advantage of all the rules including taking up to 2 strain to move.

As the 'bad guy' player I always think through the board state so I have a feeling of what they are likely to do. And there is the typical overlord benefit of listening to them make their plans so I can disrupt them. But as the Imperial player I have never felt "oh no, they've got me". It's usually an embarrassment of riches whenever I read event text that progresses the mission - deploy these 2-3 groups, resolve artillery bombardment, get threat equal to the threat level and resolve an optional deployment, etc. The missions always seem to keep heaping woe and misery on the rebel players.
 
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FeyrBert wrote:
I started winning more games as the rebel heroes when I understood I could take strain to move up to two squares without spending any action.

Maybe there's something they're missing?

This is an important one. And using Surges to recover strain, also.

Also understanding that activations and being able to damage multiple opponents with a single attack are keys, so build (via Class and Items) Heroes to exploit that. For melee Heroes, try to get reach and Cleave. For ranged, try to get Blast. If the Impies disperse to avoid the latter, they nerf the re-roll abilities of Stormtroopers and Officers and the protection conferred by the Guards. If they don't disperse far enough, a melee character with Cleave (or better, Cleave and Reach) can rush in, attack the strongest (and most dangerous) target and do incidental damage to weaker figures around that target.

Cooperation is important. Fenn is one of the Rebel Scum I've been facing and the Tactical Movement he can confer on other characters is quote annoying. So is Diala's ability to give Focus to another character. And Mak has this irritating set of skills now where if he interacts he gets a free action and another where he can stack two attacks in a single action.

But it's not just that type of tactical co-operation, it's more strategic, too. How may Impies can be tied down and distracted by one character while the others go for the objective? This would've avoided the dog pile on Han in Fly Solo, for example. And do you focus attacks on the most dangerous Impie - which typically has a high deployment cost - or on picking off the last figure in a group? If you neglect the latter, especially in earlier missions - the IP can keep reinforcing that group over and over, with thrifty expenditure of threat. Bringing the entire group or the imposing bruiser back out is much more expensive. And that depletion of units can give the Rebels the edge in activations for a few turns, allowing them to advance towards the objective un- (or less) molested or rest up so they don't all end up wounded, etc.

Another good ploy for missions without a time limit for the Rebels and especially when the time limit is on the IP, is to have one member of the party "gun and run". If the Rebels only have to outlast a time limit to win or the IP has to wound them all to win, then you can turn the tables by keeping one hero out of harm's way till the clock runs out.

Hope this helps some.
 
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The Grouch
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Morph Mode wrote:
[q="FeyrBert"]It's usually an embarrassment of riches whenever I read event text that progresses the mission - deploy these 2-3 groups, resolve artillery bombardment, get threat equal to the threat level and resolve an optional deployment, etc. The missions always seem to keep heaping woe and misery on the rebel players.

Another good point, and one they should be thinking through, as well.

Don't do something which will "advance the mission" on the last activation of the round or as the result of one Hero sprinting ahead of his support. As a Rebel, you should count on the IP having nasty surprises and hordes of units to throw at you when you "advance the mission".
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Johannes Benedikt
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Try to read this thread: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1655089/extremely-dissapoin...

Consens seems to be that the campaign mode isn't really a competitive game and the IP is supposed to play as a GM and that there is only one IP class-deck in the core box that the rebels can really beat.

I managed to keep the games interesting until the second half of the campaign by giving the Rebels all the rewards they would've got if they won everything, searched all the crates and a few extra credits on top of that.

For the second half of the campaign I guess underlying consens was that you are supposed to play suboptimal, spend only half your threat and bring suboptimal troops to the table.

In the end I really don't get how the game has such good reviews, because imo it fails quite hard as a competitive 1vsmany campaign game both on a gameplay level and usable content (only 1 IP deck that you should use).

 
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Bertrand Furcas
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Well the game has a competitive mode, it's called skirmish and has an entire deck of cards that you don't even look at doing just campaigns.
And i don't think you have to play suboptimal either to have fun 'cause, again there's no such a thing as an "optimal" choice when you're playing to experience a campaign of Imperial Assault and have fun playing through it.
And by this I don't mean you have to just GM your guys, by this I'm saying you have to go for what enjoys you, and your table-mates, the most. I don't even pick my agenda decks or imperial class cards looking at them, I just look at the name and go "that sounds cool" and go on with that. 'cause I'm not mix maxing during a campaign, I see what I get and I try and make it work.
Same goes for the heroes, I try and pick different abilities, even those that are not top tier. Right now I'm playing a campaign using Biv, that I read around is considered shit, and I'm having a lot of fun doing voices of this bulky guy going melee with a freaking E-11.
I'm losing games? Hell yes. Am I winning games too seeing my Imp buddy go all grumpy and stuff when I steamroll him? Yup again. And I use allies too sometimes wich is bananas!
I play campaign for that D&D lite vibe and for winning missions 'cause I want more rewards. The mission from that thread you're mentioning? I got destroyed and he got like 5 influence from that. I keep going tho. Game's a lot of fun, totally worth the price and hence its score. In my opinion, of course.

If I wanted to play a competitive mode I'd be all down for skirmish.
 
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Without details it is hard to give tips, but if one side is clearly steamrolling the other then there is something wrong.
- What class are you playing?
- Who is in the rebel team?
- What are the side missions they have drawn and chosen?
- Equipment?
- Why do they loose missions: did they get wounded or are they running out of time?

Also if you want to make the game easier for the rebels, let them loose the first mission "Aftermath".

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John Fanjoy
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DA_Maz wrote:
Try to read this thread: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1655089/extremely-dissapoin...

Consens seems to be that the campaign mode isn't really a competitive game and the IP is supposed to play as a GM and that there is only one IP class-deck in the core box that the rebels can really beat.

I managed to keep the games interesting until the second half of the campaign by giving the Rebels all the rewards they would've got if they won everything, searched all the crates and a few extra credits on top of that.

For the second half of the campaign I guess underlying consens was that you are supposed to play suboptimal, spend only half your threat and bring suboptimal troops to the table.

In the end I really don't get how the game has such good reviews, because imo it fails quite hard as a competitive 1vsmany campaign game both on a gameplay level and usable content (only 1 IP deck that you should use).


I do not think that "the campaign mode isn't really a competitive game and the IP is supposed to play as a GM" is a consensus in general, or even in your own thread. There are plenty of players who feel the game is pretty balanced (count myself among them), or even that the rebels have a big advantage.
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Matt Steski
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CitizenFry wrote:
DA_Maz wrote:
Try to read this thread: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1655089/extremely-dissapoin...

Consens seems to be that the campaign mode isn't really a competitive game and the IP is supposed to play as a GM and that there is only one IP class-deck in the core box that the rebels can really beat.

I managed to keep the games interesting until the second half of the campaign by giving the Rebels all the rewards they would've got if they won everything, searched all the crates and a few extra credits on top of that.

For the second half of the campaign I guess underlying consens was that you are supposed to play suboptimal, spend only half your threat and bring suboptimal troops to the table.

In the end I really don't get how the game has such good reviews, because imo it fails quite hard as a competitive 1vsmany campaign game both on a gameplay level and usable content (only 1 IP deck that you should use).


I do not think that "the campaign mode isn't really a competitive game and the IP is supposed to play as a GM" is a consensus in general, or even in your own thread. There are plenty of players who feel the game is pretty balanced (count myself among them), or even that the rebels have a big advantage.


Seconded. We've gone through 4 campaigns now (2 base, 2 Hoth) and they've all been very close. The IP in these campaign has never been "holding back" and the win rate on missions is pretty much 50/50, with the total campaigns 3-1 in favor of the Rebels.

Some missions are more tilted to one side or the other, but the game as a whole is very well balanced. As for Fly Solo:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
As others have mentioned, the Rebels' first instinct towards any "mission advances" trigger should be that something terrible is going to happen. Our immediate thought was "there's going to be a bunch of bad guys behind this door" so we took the time to set ourselves in position before opening it. Consequentially, Han had little trouble getting out.
 
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DA_Maz wrote:
Try to read this thread: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1655089/extremely-dissapoin...

Consens seems to be that the campaign mode isn't really a competitive game and the IP is supposed to play as a GM and that there is only one IP class-deck in the core box that the rebels can really beat.

There was no consensus of that at all. The consensus I tend to see here is that particular missions may be quite one-sided for either side but most are fairly close, and one side is likely to win several missions in a row due to the greater advantages you get from winning will aid you in the next one.
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cornixt wrote:
DA_Maz wrote:
Try to read this thread: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1655089/extremely-dissapoin...

Consens seems to be that the campaign mode isn't really a competitive game and the IP is supposed to play as a GM and that there is only one IP class-deck in the core box that the rebels can really beat.

There was no consensus of that at all. The consensus I tend to see here is that particular missions may be quite one-sided for either side but most are fairly close, and one side is likely to win several missions in a row due to the greater advantages you get from winning will aid you in the next one.


I had the impression that most people in this thread who play this competitivly (and by that I mean trying to make strategic and tactical decisions) and used every base game IP-deck besides technological superiority found the IP dominating or in clear advantage.

This thread https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1331517/how-balanced-each-s... also shows that 8 out of 11 story missions are in favor of the IP with most of them having a win ratio of 2/3s imperial 1/3 rebel. The 3 story missions the Rebels have an advantage in have a win-loss ratio under 60-40% except for one that is 60.4%. The 2 finales are 88-22 and 62-38 in favor of the IP.

I guess the only somehow balanced way to play through this campaign is playing all the story missions as if the Rebels lost Aftermath and won every story-mission from then on. Just rewarding them as if the won all missions and searched all crates didn't work out for me.

From my expirience the Rebels can do little to nothing against the IP if he focuses his reinforcment on the moment he gets the free troops from the events.
 
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Nick T
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Don't discount Tech Superiority...it can be quite strong too against the right rebels (poor strength tests for arc blasters).

But again, as I mentioned above, the Play By Forums show advantage to the rebels. I'm assuming that the imperial player is often more familiar with the game and more invested in the game, thus being the strongest player.

In my first campaign, the rebels were Fenn, Diala, Gideon, and Gaarkhan. A strong group and we crushed the imperial who was using subversive tactics. As the rebels, we had facebook group and discussed what upgrades would work best against ST and what general strategies to use. This made all the difference. As players get more into the game and understand the subtleties, this type of knowledge comes much more easily.
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DA_Maz wrote:

This thread https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1331517/how-balanced-each-s... also shows that 8 out of 11 story missions are in favor of the IP with most of them having a win ratio of 2/3s imperial 1/3 rebel. The 3 story missions the Rebels have an advantage in have a win-loss ratio under 60-40% except for one that is 60.4%. The 2 finales are 88-22 and 62-38 in favor of the IP.


And the side missions favor the rebels. So in the end it balances out.
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Kelteel wrote:
DA_Maz wrote:

This thread https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1331517/how-balanced-each-s... also shows that 8 out of 11 story missions are in favor of the IP with most of them having a win ratio of 2/3s imperial 1/3 rebel. The 3 story missions the Rebels have an advantage in have a win-loss ratio under 60-40% except for one that is 60.4%. The 2 finales are 88-22 and 62-38 in favor of the IP.


And the side missions favor the rebels. So in the end it balances out.


Except that story missions have generally the more important rewards (extra XP), you play more non-side-missions, only 8 out of 21 side-missions have a win-loss ratio of 60-40 and above (compared to 7 out of 11 for story missions) and well in the end, when it comes down to the final, the Rebels have a 38% chance of winning at best, if they play the other final, their chance is down to 22%.

So imo in the end, when it comes down to the final, this game is imo really unbalanced.

nicktenny wrote:
Don't discount Tech Superiority...it can be quite strong too against the right rebels (poor strength tests for arc blasters).

But again, as I mentioned above, the Play By Forums show advantage to the rebels. I'm assuming that the imperial player is often more familiar with the game and more invested in the game, thus being the strongest player.

In my first campaign, the rebels were Fenn, Diala, Gideon, and Gaarkhan. A strong group and we crushed the imperial who was using subversive tactics. As the rebels, we had facebook group and discussed what upgrades would work best against ST and what general strategies to use. This made all the difference. As players get more into the game and understand the subtleties, this type of knowledge comes much more easily.


I expect play by forums to be played by people who know the secrets, in any case this can't be ruled out, so I can't really regard this as viable data.

Your personal expirience is imo kind of uncommon and I wonder if you knew after the games what the IP could've made different to beat you, as I couldn't have thought of any mistakes the Rebels made in my playgroup. So I can't really say, how much your results were due to different player-skills, whereas I can say that in the campaign I was playing, player-skill had no impact on the outcome, since I couldn't have played better against myself.

Did your IP focus his reinforcment on the moment he got the free troops from the story-events?
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To answer the question in the OP, yes, I do think that Return to Hoth is better. The balance is overall better tuned than the vanilla campaign, with interesting objectives each mission. Overall, I'd bet that it favors the rebels a bit more than the Imperials- which often makes for a more fun game for all.

I'd be leery of making the statement that balance in the original game is borked, though I do think that it's extremely wonky (some missions give one side or the other a clear advantage, and it's definitely true that both New Threat and Fly Solo are very rough on the Rebels.) However, I think it's very common that the Imperial player will be of a different experience or talent level than the Rebels, and that can make a huge difference as far as how balanced the game feels. Some games are dependent enough on luck that it isn't so obvious, but IA is not one of those games: the more talented player will win much more often. Particularly if the Rebels have even a single player who's hurting their efficiency, it can easily throw the game in the Empire's favor.
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DA_Maz wrote:
Kelteel wrote:
DA_Maz wrote:

This thread https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1331517/how-balanced-each-s... also shows that 8 out of 11 story missions are in favor of the IP with most of them having a win ratio of 2/3s imperial 1/3 rebel. The 3 story missions the Rebels have an advantage in have a win-loss ratio under 60-40% except for one that is 60.4%. The 2 finales are 88-22 and 62-38 in favor of the IP.


And the side missions favor the rebels. So in the end it balances out.


Except that story missions have generally the more important rewards (extra XP), you play more non-side-missions, only 8 out of 21 side-missions have a win-loss ratio of 60-40 and above (compared to 7 out of 11 for story missions) and well in the end, when it comes down to the final, the Rebels have a 38% chance of winning at best, if they play the other final, their chance is down to 22%.

So imo in the end, when it comes down to the final, this game is imo really unbalanced.

nicktenny wrote:
Don't discount Tech Superiority...it can be quite strong too against the right rebels (poor strength tests for arc blasters).

But again, as I mentioned above, the Play By Forums show advantage to the rebels. I'm assuming that the imperial player is often more familiar with the game and more invested in the game, thus being the strongest player.

In my first campaign, the rebels were Fenn, Diala, Gideon, and Gaarkhan. A strong group and we crushed the imperial who was using subversive tactics. As the rebels, we had facebook group and discussed what upgrades would work best against ST and what general strategies to use. This made all the difference. As players get more into the game and understand the subtleties, this type of knowledge comes much more easily.


I expect play by forums to be played by people who know the secrets, in any case this can't be ruled out, so I can't really regard this as viable data.

Your personal expirience is imo kind of uncommon and I wonder if you knew after the games what the IP could've made different to beat you, as I couldn't have thought of any mistakes the Rebels made in my playgroup. So I can't really say, how much your results were due to different player-skills, whereas I can say that in the campaign I was playing, player-skill had no impact on the outcome, since I couldn't have played better against myself.

Did your IP focus his reinforcment on the moment he got the free troops from the story-events?


We had some lucky breaks: getting diala's lightsaber in the first side mission and a big win in generous donations.

The imperial player was a good, but not great player.

I think there's less room for error with the rebels, especially in the base game. Return to Hoth probably is more balanced.
 
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If you look at the posts with statistics on the missions, the core game story missions favor the imperials and the side missions favor the rebels. In the Hoth campaign, the story missions are fairly balanced, though the finale is strongly in the rebels favor and the side missions favor the rebels too. If your rebels are feeling beaten down, it's a good campaign to try.

As for words of encouragement for the rebels, I'd say try to hang in there for a few more missions. A New Threat and Fly Solo are a couple of really tough missions for the rebels. After that though, they have two side missions to gear up with and there is better balance. In our last campaign, the rebels struggled in the first half, but utterly dominated by the end.

Here is some good advice for the rebels that I don't think has been mentioned yet. When a mission goes poorly for the rebels, they should at some point consider giving up on their objective. No, I'm serious! If things really look bleak, the rebels should seriously consider just running for crates instead. The extra 200 credits you can often pick up this way can make a huge difference down the road.
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DA_Maz wrote:

Except that story missions have generally the more important rewards (extra XP), you play more non-side-missions, only 8 out of 21 side-missions have a win-loss ratio of 60-40 and above (compared to 7 out of 11 for story missions)


Credits are also very important, without the right equipment you will lose and having one more T3 weapon makes a huge difference.

Quote:

and well in the end, when it comes down to the final, the Rebels have a 38% chance of winning at best, if they play the other final, their chance is down to 22%.

So imo in the end, when it comes down to the final, this game is imo really unbalanced.


I agree, but we are talking here about the rebels getting steamrolled. I am fine with the final beeing hard for first time rebel players, gives an incentive to play again
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DA_Maz wrote:

From my expirience the Rebels can do little to nothing against the IP if he focuses his reinforcment on the moment he gets the free troops from the events.


Do not trigger events with your last action? If you open doors/activate terminals etc. with your first activation in a round then the imperial can normaly not place reserved troops together with his open groups.
 
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Me: "I hate this ****ing game"

Gaming group: silence (they never invited me back)

I hated it. I'm no fan of Descent either. There is a random luck chance that the players win the final mission and "win" the campaign. That's what happened with my group. We won 1/3rd of the missions, but when we lost, no amount of strategy helped. The Emperor had some slick trick that we didn't know about, spawned Darth Vader behind us, and he chopped off 2 heads before we could react with one player, who reacted ineffectually, and then the royal red dudes stomped the remaining player to death, and the game was over and the Emperor was very pleased with his or herself.

Never again.
Never.
And I won't play Descent ever again either (played one campaign of each)
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DA_Maz wrote:
I expect play by forums to be played by people who know the secrets, in any case this can't be ruled out, so I can't really regard this as viable data.


If you don't see this as viable data you should not use the thread you are using (https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1331517/how-balanced-each-s...) either. Because you don't have this information about the people who fill the poll either.

For me it looks like you are just using the data which supports your hypothesis and fits your experience rejecting the other data out of hand.

Trying to look at this objectively (which I also only can try to do), I agree knowing the secrets might be one explanation for the higher number of rebel wins in PBF games. Another explanation could be that PBF players tend to have more time to think about their moves and are generally more invested in the game (they like it so much they play in a forum (not in any way meant negatively, I have played PBF myself)).

I think the question if the game is balanced per se can be answered with no. I think its nigh impossible to make such a complex game balanced.
Is it one-sided? I wouldn't say so. I see a lot of threats on the forums which say that Imperial players got steamrolled by Rebels. So there might be the problem, that one side easily gets steamrolled. But on the other hand there could be a bias there, because you are less likely to start a threat entitled "We had a totally balanced experience - Is Return to Hoth the same?" than one like this one.

Now the statistics (https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1331517/how-balanced-each-s...) seem to indicate that the Imperial player has the advantage in some missions (which I tend to agree with from my own experience). That together with the fact that the Imperial player tends to be the most experienced players seems to lead to the fact that Imperial steamrolls happen (this is indeed a fact, otherwise there wouldn't be so many articles about it).

I don't think we have enough or good enough data to make the statement that the core campaign per se is unbalanced. But there are so many factors which are outside of the influence of the game designers, like the composition of your playing group, the expansions you own, the rules you forget, misunderstand or houserule and last but not least luck, that there are necessarily groups which perceive the core campaign as unbalanced. And they might even be in the majority (but we would need to start another poll to get closer to an answer on this).

Sorry for my babbling. I have work to do but don't feel like doing it...


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Get the Imperial Assault Campaign module for Vassal from http://www.vassalengine.org/wiki/Module:Star_Wars:_Imperial_Assault
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Heliodorus04 wrote:
Me: "I hate this ****ing game"

Never again.
Never.
And I won't play Descent ever again either (played one campaign of each)

Just out of curiosity: Why do you read the Imperial Assault forums if you hate the game?
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Cris Bohde
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My experience so far... I've hosted 4 Base campaigns as IP, and am just 2 missions into our first RTH campaign as IP.

Agree with all of the following points others have made:
1) The base campaign storyline that is typically followed if the Rebels win Aftermath favors the Imperials (read: FAVORS, not Steamrolls...). If the Rebels lose Aftermath, the storyline seems slightly more balanced
2) RTH so far (and from the missions I've read ahead to prepare for) seems more balanced, though since we haven't actually PLAYED through these yet, please take my opinion so far with a grain of salt. I'll know more about this in a few weeks as we continue this campaign.
3) There is a small element of "steamrolling" in ANY of the campaigns if one side wins a lot of missions in a row. If it's the Imperials, the Rebels can counter slightly by getting as many crates as possible to get more credits for the shop. All of my rebel groups find that if it's the last round and they have no possible chance of winning, they'll just go for as many crates as possible, hoping to help buy at least one better item for a Rebel Hero to give them better chances in future.

My own points:
1) If your Rebel Hero group prefers to stand and fight Stormtroopers than focusing on objectives, they will lose a LOT of base campaign story missions. Most of those missions are focused on round limits, and forces the Rebel players to strategize on making efficient use of their actions. Heroes that get extra free actions/movement or can attack/damage multiple Imperials in a single action are key. RTH missions seemed to lighten up on the round limit a bit, making action efficiency a little less harsh.
2) My 2nd and 3rd Base campaigns had the same players. The Rebels had won Aftermath in their first campaign (my 2nd) and had a hard time. In their 2nd campaign (my 3rd), they only knew that losing Aftermath would likely move them along a different storyline path (not that it was easier, but different), we all chose to save time and not play Aftermath and act as though the Rebels lost but got all the crates (since that would have been their strategy anyways). That campaign was closer to 50/50 win/loss, though the Rebels were more experienced too.
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