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Xia: Embers of a Forsaken Star» Forums » General

Subject: 4 games, 4 Pirate Wins rss

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Jeremy Steward
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Alright, I have now played 4 games with the expansion.

First, a 4 player game using the expansion, just without the new tiles nor event cards. I went for the typical missile build of Swamp Rat-Occams' Razor-Slow Leak (w/ 2 missiles+pierces). I dominated but i was not playing with super experienced players.

Second, a "solo" game with the full expansion where I was controlling 4 players. Again, the missile build Slow Leak won but there were 2 players close.

Third, a 5 multi-player game. An inexperienced player with a very wonky missile build won. I, as a freelancer would have won, but he killed me, causing me to lose my missions. Basically, he was quite far behind, but he kept killed tier 3 ships turn after turn (despite being killed himself) for the win.

Fourth, a 5 player game where I controlled all players. The pirate was using a blaster build going Numerator-Exodus-Nightshade (would have taken Slow Leak, but another "player" took it). This game the pirate snuck out the win again, by scoring 3 points by killing a tier 3 ship (23 hp and d8 shield).




Basically Piercers, especially when you have 2 or 3 of them, pretty much nullify shields unless they have a d12 shield and roll well. Then they roll 2/3 d20s (my blaster ship was rolling 2 d20s, 2 d6s, Shockwave that he copied, with 3 piercers)and generally have no issue rolling enough damage to take out the target ship (unless you roll really bad).

Destroying a ship is now not particularly difficult, unless the defender spends significant resources to defend, and even then, not all ships can even equip a d12 shield because of the shape. But that isn't really isn't the issue so much that I really don't think the rewards for destroying a ship match the effort it takes to do so, especially in the late game.

Now, the main weakness of these pirate ships, is they go all guns and engines, no shields. You could argue that you could bully the bully. But the problem with that, is that is is difficult for other professions to just strap on a missile/blaster, and also if you do kill the pirate, the new rules inflict pretty much no tempo loss, so the pirate can just spawn, ignore the damage and target the closest ship he/she spawns to.

I realize I am making Pirate sound like they are massively OP, which isn't quite the case. Most of my games have had another player close to winning when the pirate won. Freelancers got a massive boost with the m-comp and can have some truly explosive turns. A Gatherer can also be quite strong with moderate luck.
There also ways you can play against a pirate. Ending your turn in Asteroids/debris is a good way to avoid being attacked (but not always possible). You can really screw a missile pirate over by taking Slow Leak as your own ship (Doesn't really work vs a Blaster Pirate Tho) but that doesn't really solve the issue.

I am very close to implementing a house rule ruling Tier 1/2/3 ship award 1/1/2 points. The pirate will still target primarily the npcs in the early/mid game, and make it less likely that a pirate will have a tier 3 ship player simply because they are worth 3 fp. I just have not yet decided if the enforcer will still be 2 fp or not.

A house rule I have already implemented is that ships respawn with half energy (in addition to the damage). This forces a slight tempo loss as you will want to end up at a planet sooner than otherwise, but still is fairly minor.



I really really like the game with the expansion, but I do feel that some of the balance changes went slightly too far in the other direction.
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Jacob Williams
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Swamp Rat is broken when used with Slow Leak's unofficial special power of holding 2 tier 3 missiles, imho. I brought it up in play testing for the expansion, but Cody and Ira disagreed.

The "pirate" stragey rarely wins in my games, but this could be attributed to the meta. When it does win, it's typically the Swamp Rat, Occam's Razor, Slow Leak combo.

Pirate is in quotation marks because I feel pirate means stealing cargo by force. What you're describing is what I'd call the warrior strategy.
 
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Jeremy Steward
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I call it Pirate, for lack of a better term, yeah. Although taking out ships and taking their cargo does definitely happen sometimes and it is much easier to do so now with cargo pods.

Over-surge has definitely always been OP with missiles, but was tempered with shields before. That said, even if it were changed, you can still kill ships with relative ease. Double missile + oversurge was strong in the base game, and now with piercers it is actually overkill. I had no problems killing a tier 3 ship with with my blaster build (2 d12s, 2 d6s, Shockwave +3 Piercers).

But as I said, I don't really have an issue with the fact you can blow players up more easily but that it is more the fact that tier 3 ships are worth 3 points and the fact that tier 3 gunships can take them out with relative ease.
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Ira Fay
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Thanks for the report. It feels easier to hide from missiles with the expansion due to The Kiln, Tig, and Kei, along with the other small planets where you can stay in the middle. That said, Shockwave can push you around, so maybe it's moot.

Either way, I think Swamp Rat + d20 missile is an interesting question. By a strict reading, you shouldn't be able to use the Swamp Rat ability simultaneously with an attack, since it says "As an action or as a Defense."

So I think you CAN use ability and shields simultaneously since it says "as a defense," but it seems like you cannot use the ability and attack simultaneously, because it's a separate action.

So, you can roll a missile, the target can re-arm shields, and then you can roll the missile again at -1 with Swamp Rat's ability.

I realize it's generally been played as a combo, and I think even the current FAQ mentions it, but perhaps this is an easy way to weaken the Swamp Rat d20 missile combo, and it seems in line with the actual text on the card anyway. I'll talk with Cody about it.

Thoughts?
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Ian Avery
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I think the ability would allow a separate single dice attack. It is a separate action to overcharge.
 
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Cordwangle wrote:
I think the ability would allow a separate single dice attack. It is a separate action to overcharge.


This has been asked a long time ago, and Cody said that the overcharge can be combined with the attack, but the -1 applies to both/all activations used simultaneously.

So if you use a missile, it's a d20. If you use that missile and overcharge at the same time, it's 2d20-2, due to the overcharge damage affecting both shots. It should be in the FAQ somewhere.

That power really should be changed/removed, because it's the main unbalancing thing in combat. Most ships originally (edit: pre-expansion) had an awful chance at winning a fight, except for the one person that got the overcharge ability, who blew people up much more easily. Now with piercers, average ships now actually have a chance at combat, which is good! But now, overcharge is even more broken.
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Jeremy Steward
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Making Oversurge non-combinable would be a fair and simple nerf. It just does too much damage currently for any ability let alone a tier 1.

But I am not sure it solves the issue. Double missile+2 piercers is going to get the kill most of the time without Oversurge. It would affect your early/mid game tho quite a bit so maybe it balances out.
And in my last 2 games, the gunship player did not use oversurge, but they did both use 3 piercers and had no problems getting 3 points by destroying tier 3 players.
 
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Jacob Williams
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Deadwolf wrote:
Making Oversurge non-combinable would be a fair and simple nerf. It just does too much damage currently for any ability let alone a tier 1.

But I am not sure it solves the issue. Double missile+2 piercers is going to get the kill most of the time without Oversurge. It would affect your early/mid game tho quite a bit so maybe it balances out.
And in my last 2 games, the gunship player did not use oversurge, but they did both use 3 piercers and had no problems getting 3 points by destroying tier 3 players.


Wait... Are they putting multiple pierces on the same missile launcher?
 
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Jeremy Steward
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ChromiumAgeCollector wrote:
Deadwolf wrote:
Making Oversurge non-combinable would be a fair and simple nerf. It just does too much damage currently for any ability let alone a tier 1.

But I am not sure it solves the issue. Double missile+2 piercers is going to get the kill most of the time without Oversurge. It would affect your early/mid game tho quite a bit so maybe it balances out.
And in my last 2 games, the gunship player did not use oversurge, but they did both use 3 piercers and had no problems getting 3 points by destroying tier 3 players.


Wait... Are they putting multiple pierces on the same missile launcher?


No, 2 missiles with a piercer on each. Sorry that wording was poor.
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Ira Fay
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Let's make sure we're making fair comparisons.

Attacker: 2d20 missiles, 2 piercers.
Space: 10
Cost: 8k

So let's give a defender 10 spaces and 8k:
Shield: 3d12
Armor: 5 (+15 hold space)
Space used: 10

Most Tier 3 ships can be equipped with 5 armor plating without a problem, though I haven't checked all of them. Either way, it seems like the same level of tetris challenge as 2d20 missiles.

Let's figure an average Tier 3 ship has 15 hold space normally, so we're talking about 30 damage to destroy the ship, plus whatever the shields can prevent.

Here's a combat simulator:
http://irafay.com/xia_combat.php

So here's a summary of those results:

Attacker has 2d20 attacking dice, 2 shield piercers, and Occam's Razor.

Defender has 3d12 shields with...
0 damage on them: 10.4 expected damage
1 damage on them: 12.7 expected damage
2 damage on them: 15.1 expected damage

Defender has 3d8 shields with...
0 damage on them: 15.4 expected damage
1 damage on them: 17.9 expected damage
2 damage on them: 20.7 expected damage (only 2 shield activations)

And to run the numbers on blasters, let's use 2d12 + 2d6 blaster, assuming Exodus RK-5 blaster, 3 shield piercers, 3 activations total, 7 spaces used, 6k cost:
3d12 shields: 12.4 expected damage
3d8 shields: 17.6 expected damage


So notice that none of those numbers are getting very close to 30 damage, which is what you need to destroy a Tier 3 ship with 5 armor plating.

My conclusion after thinking about this more is: if there are powerful pirates roaming around, and you choose to upgrade to Tier 3 AND you don't invest in equally strong defense AND you don't hide/run away from the pirates, then the pirates will blow you up. That seems good and fair to me.

Related to that, if there are powerful pirates roaming around, if you invest at a similar level of defense, you can have a reasonably good chance of surviving.

Of course, the pirate need not pick the toughest target - they are free to pick the easiest target. But I guess my point in all of this is that there are definite counters to the pirate/warrior strategy, and that's good, but that strategy can also be successful if players don't defend against it while simultaneously offering them juicy Tier 3 ships.
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Jacob Williams
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Ira, I respectfully feel your analysis missed some critical points. A lot of ships can't even use a level 3 shield. Moreover, once you tetris a tier 3 shield and 5 armor plates, what room is left to continue your original strategy?

It seems to me that you have to totally change your strategy to defending against the aggressor as opposed to making reasonable accommodations to deal with them while pursuing your own strategy.

In most cases, I don't think tier 3 missiles with pierces are the problem. It's specifically the combo of Swamp Rat, Slow Leak (with or without) pierces that's the problem because you can launch 3D20 - 2 (expected value of 29.5 if I am remembering my uniformed distribution properties correctly).

I get you can put some distance between the ships, hide in asteroid/debris fields, and hang out on small planets (e.g. Tig, Kei, etc.), and that's fair. I just don't think it balances out. Granted it's very difficult to analyze these super specific cases.
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Dan Zielinski
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ira212 wrote:

My conclusion after thinking about this more is: if there are powerful pirates roaming around, and you choose to upgrade to Tier 3 AND you don't invest in equally strong defense AND you don't hide/run away from the pirates, then the pirates will blow you up. That seems good and fair to me.


Love it!
 
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Ira Fay
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ChromiumAgeCollector wrote:
Ira, I respectfully feel your analysis missed some critical points.
Fair enough! I'm happy to continue the discussion.

ChromiumAgeCollector wrote:
In most cases, I don't think tier 3 missiles with pierces are the problem. It's specifically the combo of Swamp Rat, Slow Leak (with or without) pierces that's the problem because you can launch 3D20 - 2
OK, I understand now. I thought you were generally talking about "attack vs. defense" with expansion components. I understand now that you're talking about this specific combo. Let's put it on hold until I have a chance to talk with Cody next week about Over Surge. At the moment, I feel inclined to reverse the previous ruling that Swamp Rat's ability can be used simultaneously with an attack, and make Over Surge require a separate action (which is what's written!), but it's quite possible I'm missing something, and I want to talk with Cody about it before making an official reversal.

ChromiumAgeCollector wrote:
A lot of ships can't even use a level 3 shield.
A lot of ships can't use 2d20 missiles, either. Also, a tier 2 shield with an extra armor plating is totally fine too.

Quote:
It seems to me that you have to totally change your strategy to defending against the aggressor as opposed to making reasonable accommodations to deal with them while pursuing your own strategy.
Well a Tier 3 shield and 5 armor plating is probably overkill. I think you could go with Tier 2 shield and 4 armor plating, or even 3 armor plating, and be pretty fine. That still leaves plenty of room for a nice size engine, plus several GTS/MComp. Also, with a nice shield like that, you can easily go exploring, or quarry/excavate/mine/harvest assuming you take a cargo pod or two.

Also, I think it's good thing that what other players do will matter! If your actions and strategies don't affect me at all, then why are we playing this game together?!

I think it's an exaggeration to say "totally change your strategy." Yes, you may have to adjust a bit, but I think it's still quite easy to get some shields/armor, and then put them to good use while pursuing a mission or mining strategy, OR stay away from you, OR change to pirate strategy myself and blow you up since you don't have any shields!

But again, I think that sort of player interaction is fundamentally a good thing, as long as both the attacker and defender feel like they have options (and in this case, I think they do).
 
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Jeremy Steward
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While I do agree, if you are upgrading to Tier 3, you do have to now think about defense but newer players (or even new to the expansion) arent going to know that. And unlike weapons which directly get you fame points, defense does not directly get you fame points (unless you are a Gatherer). Credits are less important in the end game but to spend 2 credits on a d12 shield and then armor plating is essentially costing you a fame point, and at least one popular T3 ship cannot equip the T12 shield.

In my last game, my Blaster ship did 31 damage (2-d12s, 2 d6s, 5 from Shockwave), d8 shields prevented 3 damage (15-12). Doing 28 damage to a 17+6 HP ship.
 
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ira212 wrote:
At the moment, I feel inclined to reverse the previous ruling that Swamp Rat's ability can be used simultaneously with an attack, and make Over Surge require a separate action (which is what's written!), but it's quite possible I'm missing something, and I want to talk with Cody about it before making an official reversal.


Multiple attacks actions can be combined into a single attack. Just like you don't have to do attacks one by one as you use markers, you don't have to do attacks separately with the Oversurge. Oversurge just lets you take an action as if you placed a marker on it, damaging it in the process.

That's it.

It's in the FAQ even, on the xia site: http://www.faroffgames.com/xia/faq
Xia FAQ wrote:

Over-Surge Dice Penalty
Scenario: Over-Surge is used in combination with normal uses of the same outfit for a single Action or Defense. Does the damage penalty from Over-Surge get applied to each roll or to only the overcharge roll?

When combined into one attack – the damage to the outfit is applied before the attack roll(s). All rolls from that outfit will have the damage applied to them for that attack.


The problem with balancing combat has always been that one ship can basically double its damage compared to other similarly equipped ships. I'm surprised this one didn't get a new revised ability cards, as it makes balance rather hard when one ship doesn't follow the rules.
 
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Brett Burleigh II
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When it comes down to the debate about combat, here's my .02 - not that it's solicited...

I like to teach this game at Origins every year, and in 2016 I had 3 or 4 sessions and a few more sessions spilling into my regular group.
This year, I had 2 sessions and will probably get it to the group with the expansion.

Whenever I teach, I like to go pirate, just to keep everyone on their toes. I usually explore as much FP as I can, and get a little money to become more opportunistically flexible.
I almost always try to have my turns go fast to keep the game moving - and I'm apt to enter combat just for the gas of it.

COMBAT is simply *NOT* in the favor of the aggressor.
If you want an effective pirate - Swamp Rat is really the only answer in the early game.

I am all for balancing a game that's as wide open as Xia is - but seriously, it's SO hard to kill anything that's moving, unless they're crippled and hobbling back planetside - and then you have to hope you can reach them before they skate away... No nerfs necessary to aggression.

If there's a combo, and it happens to be the most effective....
That's not broken. It's a feature!

The defenders have the luxury of repowering their battery - which decidedly makes the game less combat-heavy. All fair and well. But the amount of effort it takes to get a good space blaster into play is steep, and you're closing off other (easier, faster) routes to FP.


As Ira states above, if you're seeing someone out there trigger-happy and hungry - and you don't prepare for it - then that's on you.


At this point - any "Patch" that comes out to further nerf combat - yeah, that's a module I won't be seeking out.
 
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Jeremy Steward
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brrrmanza wrote:
When it comes down to the debate about combat, here's my .02 - not that it's solicited...

I like to teach this game at Origins every year, and in 2016 I had 3 or 4 sessions and a few more sessions spilling into my regular group.
This year, I had 2 sessions and will probably get it to the group with the expansion.

Whenever I teach, I like to go pirate, just to keep everyone on their toes. I usually explore as much FP as I can, and get a little money to become more opportunistically flexible.
I almost always try to have my turns go fast to keep the game moving - and I'm apt to enter combat just for the gas of it.

COMBAT is simply *NOT* in the favor of the aggressor.
If you want an effective pirate - Swamp Rat is really the only answer in the early game.

I am all for balancing a game that's as wide open as Xia is - but seriously, it's SO hard to kill anything that's moving, unless they're crippled and hobbling back planetside - and then you have to hope you can reach them before they skate away... No nerfs necessary to aggression.

If there's a combo, and it happens to be the most effective....
That's not broken. It's a feature!

The defenders have the luxury of repowering their battery - which decidedly makes the game less combat-heavy. All fair and well. But the amount of effort it takes to get a good space blaster into play is steep, and you're closing off other (easier, faster) routes to FP.


As Ira states above, if you're seeing someone out there trigger-happy and hungry - and you don't prepare for it - then that's on you.


At this point - any "Patch" that comes out to further nerf combat - yeah, that's a module I won't be seeking out.


It sounds like you have not played with the expansion because you are describing the game before the expansion. Piercers change everything
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Jacob Williams
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I will be the first to admit that I am wrong on this after additional play testing. If anyone has never had a game with this combo at the table, all I am asking is that you play test it a time or two before drawing a definite conclusion.
 
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Brett Burleigh II
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Deadwolf wrote:
It sounds like you have not played with the expansion because you are describing the game before the expansion. Piercers change everything


Then this is exactly what I was hoping for... Combat was so "balanced" it that it was a non-option (or, worse, it was nowhere near a winning strategy).
 
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brrrmanza wrote:
Deadwolf wrote:
It sounds like you have not played with the expansion because you are describing the game before the expansion. Piercers change everything


Then this is exactly what I was hoping for... Combat was so "balanced" it that it was a non-option (or, worse, it was nowhere near a winning strategy).


Combat was stastically non-viable before piercers.

To be 100% clear, I only think Swamp Rat/Slow Leak w/ 2 tier 3 missiles needs further scrutiny. Missiles and piercers seem fine to me as is
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Garruk TheHunter
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Did I get this right? Someone that have Swamp Rat and Slow Leek that equip 2 Tier 3 missiles (d20) can attack with both missiles and over-surge giving them 3d20-3 attack?
 
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Jeremy Steward
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Garruk wrote:
Did I get this right? Someone that have Swamp Rat and Slow Leek that equip 2 Tier 3 missiles (d20) can attack with both missiles and over-surge giving them 3d20-3 attack?


Technically 3d20-2 (the damage is only on one of the outfits).
You could do this in the base game and along with rail gun to damage the targets shields, it was the one way you actually destroy ships in the base game.

Now, with the fact that you can have 2 piercers on that build, it really is broken. With a high chance of success even against the hardiest of targets.

I think any ship going all out offense it a very strong strategy, but 3 20s with -8 shields is nuts.
 
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Christoph Drees
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In our group that problem will often not happen
because we draft the ships.(houserule) Meaning at the start
every player (at 2/3 Players) only gets two random ships
to decide from and no one has the chance to choose
from all ships. And everytime someone buys a better
ship he too only gets two random ships that are
"available" on that planet of which he can choose one.
We love that way because you cannot plan the whole game
through and you get really excited about being able
to get a totally new ship. That way the ships seem
harder to get. I know the start is not playable with more
than 3 players but the buying rule would be, so you cannot
plan getting the matching ships for 2 Lv 3 Missiles.
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