Monday, November 9, 2015

The Sky Isn't Falling: Reaction to Worlds

Worlds is over, and with it Jonathan Reinig has taken first overall with his list of Garm Bel Iblis, 2 AFII-Bs, a CR90B, and 8 A-Wings.  Congratulations to him, especially for being our first World Champion for the game, but also for proving something we've really known all along:  Squadrons aren't bad or worthless, just requiring practice and skill to use effectively.

And Jonathan did use them effectively in two games streamed live on FFG's Twitch TV, using them to great effect to destroy his enemy's ships with nothing in the way of upgrades on his stock Assault Frigates and only a Token distributing Garm on his CR90B.  Using the A-Wings, the rebel fighter that is not only the most point-effective Interceptor in the game, but also a viable anti-ship platform and space superiority fighter (see Squadron Composition) he was able to go the distance, ending the tournament with 42 points to his nearest opponent's 37.

Did Someone Say Tournament Points?!

Speaking of tournament points, it was interesting to see the distribution in tournament points for the top players.  While Jonathan took top spot with 42 points, and was the only one to crack the 40 point barrier, he did so averaging just over 8 points per game.  Everyone else in the 55 player initial field had a lower overall average.  In the end, this means that a 1st round bye would not have a been a horrible penalty for a player - at least in this tournament, putting them roughly on pace with the ultimate winner based on average score.

I found this on the NOVA Fleet Facebook Page - Thanks Frank!

On the other hand, for the other top players, they were very closely clumped together, from #2 all the way down to #16 (and beyond).  The #2 player took 37 points, as did the #3 player.  #4 had 36 points, and #5 had 35 points.  In all cases here, the players were averaging over 7 points per game, meaning that a 1st round bye would have theoretically improved their relative standings.  It gets even more clustered at #6 down to #17 - all 12 players within this cluster had between 33 and 31 points - just 2 points separated a top 8 finish from flunking out of the top 16 all together, and each player was averaging just over 6 points per game.

Interestingly enough, the only guy to get exactly 25, was exactly in the middle of the standings, earning 28th overall.

But enough about Tournament Points, and how winning all your games 8-2 apparently would have won you worlds (and how I was wrong about the premise of a previous article, if not the conclusion).  I want to take a minute to talk about the divergent strategies we saw in play and how they can affect our own strategies going forward.

State of the Meta - Going into Worlds

It comes as no surprise to anyone frequenting the FFG forums, or any other place where Armada was frequently discussed, that there was a serious discussion taking place on the effectiveness of squadrons following the release of Wave 1 and the victory of the "Gen-Con Special" at the US Nationals.  Consensus was difficult to achieve, as a significant group of players considered squadrons to be detrimental to tournament play and scoring and another significant group of players considered squadrons to be wonderful, and argued that all ship lists were at a disadvantage against a squadron heavy Bomber list.  (For the record, my own position was articulated here.)

What this meant was, going into worlds, the focus was on ships with minimal or no fighter support at all, particularly for ships that were building to win big in the tournaments.  And, intentionally or otherwise, our future world champion also built for big tournament wins.  Each of his ships clocked in at less than 75 points, giving him a shot at a 9-1 win via tabling even if two of his own ships were destroyed.  By spreading his points out between two naked AFIIs, and a CR90 with his commander, no matter what was destroyed, he would still be in a good position to maximize his point gains.  To put it another way, to get a total victory over his opponent, no one ship he had wasn't expendable - so he didn't have to waste too much worry about defense of any one centerpiece to his fleet.  His choice of squadrons as well was strategic - going for 88 points, 8 squadrons total gave him a nice even number to delay deployment of his ships against what he could assume was ship heavy meta.  Plus, it gave him the exact number of squadron activations that 2 Assault Frigates with Garm could activate with a squadron command, and a free token handed out Turn 1.

He also built his list with friendly objectives in mind, with a low bid and objectives that favored him if he would be going 2nd - which with longer range ships and squadron activations - he wouldn't particularly mind.  I am not 100% sure of his Offensive Objective though I am guessing Most Wanted to help drop a key enemy ship.  For Defensive Objective, we saw him play Contested Outpost to great effect.  A good objective for convincing your opponents to walk into your cloud of starfighters, it gives you a location where you know big high value ships will be headed.  Finally, my guess would be that he had Superior Positions, because why wouldn't you with 8 A-Wings (average of 90 points per turn from the cloud).

But for upgrades he went the opposite way conventional carrier builds were envisioned.  Instead of tooling his ships down with force multiplier upgrades, he went minimalist - the offensive focus for his list would be his giant cloud of fighters - a gamble certainly, as they could be tied up by an opposing cloud of fighters if he ran into one.  He'd likely win superiority with 8 A-Wings, but would lack the offense to effectively damage enemy ships after wasting a turn or 2 on their squadrons.  Fortunately, and perhaps by planning and knowing the meta would be heavy ship Imperial lists, his opponents that we watched were exactly what his list was tooled to go toe to toe with, and come out on top.

So, in the end, worlds gave us a better understanding of the nature of tournaments and list building, and a revised strategy to consider when kitting out a carrier for your squadrons - light on the upgrades to mitigate the cost of the squadrons themselves and keep ship totals high.

One final thought - as of yet I haven't seen Jonathan pop up anywhere talking about winning the tournament and putting his strategy in his own words - if you know him (or are him) and could have him get in touch with me, I'd love to pick his brain.  Hell, I'm sure everyone would at this point.


  1. Here is an interview with the winner:

  2. If you feel like doing some legwork to track him down, you can find him on (or through) the Facebook group KC Star Wars Armada.