Friday, May 5, 2017

Will FFG get out its Nerf bat?

One of the reasons that I started tracking the Regionals data back in Wave 2 was to see if the Demolisher title would get nerfed.  FFG had recently used the nerf bat for the first time in Imperial Assault.  A particular build and its obvious counter had completely flooded the tables at the world championships and FFG felt it was necessary to make a change for the health of the game.  I wanted to know if Demo was anywhere near that threshold.  Turns out that it wasn't, so FFG instead addressed it through some counters.

Well, the reports coming back from Worlds appear to indicate that a certain build may have crossed that threshold, which has me wondering if something in Armada is about to get nerfed.

Here is a quote from FFG's article on that first errata:
While the influx of new figures and cards contributed to varied lists competing at the top level, it was clear that the tournament metagame revolved around two well-defined archetypes: Royal Guard swarm with Imperial Officers and Rebel Saboteur-backed Rebels.
We have been watching the figures in these armies carefully and have come to the conclusion that some of these figures are simply more powerful than the alternatives and their presence inhibits the growth of a healthy metagame. To ensure a diverse and interactive second year of Skirmish, it has become necessary to exercise errata.
Anecdotal reports around that time relayed that those two builds accounted for the overwhelming majority of squads at the top tables at worlds that year.

FFG has gotten out the nerf bat on just a few occasions and never for Armada.  They strongly prefer to address balance concerns through future upgrades and ship options.  FFG's criteria for an errata appears to be seeing a particular build or option become the dominant presence at major tournaments.

Once an option reaches that criteria FFG follows a pretty similar pattern. They tend to be very gentle in their errata.  They want to keep the card viable and then either introduce some risk in its use or tone down any combos or interactions.  They have never done cost adjustments.  It is always about changing the abilities.

So, what does that mean for Armada?

Well, reports are that Rebels thoroughly dominated the top tables at the World Championships.  Those Rebel fleets themselves were apparently heavily made up of Rieekan/Yavaris/Squadron fleets.  It appears that this dominance would meet the threshold that FFG has used in the past to issue erratas.

I expect errata to appear.  I am not sure it should, but I expect it at this point.

So, what do I think it will look like?  First, I expect it to hit Rebels specifically.  The faction dominating all those top spots can expect some changes.  I also expect the changes to be pretty small.  On their own none of the individual parts of the Rebel winning fleets was that bad, but what it built to turned out to be pretty dominate.

Candidates for errata:

Rieekan - Reportedly he was everywhere in the top tables.  There are few options that jump out:
  1. Limit his uses per turn
  2. Remove destroyed ships after their activation rather than the end of the turn
  3. Remove his effect from squadrons
  4. Any ship/squadron that he is keeping alive loses it's special abilities/upgrades/commands
I think any of those would work to keep him useful, but tone him down some.

Yavaris - Another option that was in most all of the Rieekan builds.  It is a very strong force multiplier for Rebel squadron builds.  Some options include:
  1. Limit the effect to 1 squadron per turn
  2. Disallow it being used through Relay
  3. Strengthen the no movement restriction to disallow the combo with Fighter Coordination Teams
Those are the two Rebel specific options that seem most likely to be changed.  But some others may be addressed too.

Flotillas - I really like what flotillas have done for the game in terms of helping large ships.  But there appears to be some abuses.  Those can be addressed without changing what is good about having them:
  1. Flotillas no longer prevent tabling.  If all non-flotilla ships are gone, you lose.
  2. No admirals on flotillas
  3. Reduce their squadron value to 1
I've advocated for option 1 in the past and still think that is the best solution.  It would put risk into their use.

Relay - Relay is an interesting option, but one that is being abused in some fleets.
  1. A squadron may only Relay for one ship per turn
  2. The Relay squadron must be in command range of the commanding ship
Either or both of those would correct many abuses.
So, if reports from Worlds are accurate Errata is likely to come to Armada, maybe in one of the forms above or something else entirely.

Did I miss any?  Based on the results from Worlds do you think anything else needs to be changed?


  1. Yavaris does not need a nerf. Preventing squadrons from loving is they attack twice is limitation enough. And if you want to use relay as a rebel it costs

    1. It probably doesn't need a nerf. I just looked at FFGs history of what they do nerf and it seemed like a good candidate.

      By itself Yavaris is fine, but in combo with all of the other squadron buffs FFG may deem it too strong. It was apparently everywhere at Worlds.

  2. Given the recent FAQ Relay definition, I don't think they'll change that. FFG ALSO likes doing more soft counters. So flotillas showed and countered Demo. I have to believe that Sloan will help against Rieekan squadron swarm.

    I ALSO think that if some of the proposed flotilla changes happen, the Rieekan swarm will help problems. If flotillas don't count as ships for tabling, that's the easiest fix I think. Then you just need to kill, what, 2 ships? If it's that viable a bomber list....

    1. Sloane won't help too much with Jan and GH with Xwings

  3. If they nerf Yavaris then they need to nerf Demo. Even though we are seeing it less than before, Demo is still a way overpowered upgrade.I think just stopping him shooting after engine tech would be sufficient. I'm talking from both sides here as I have taken tons of hurt before and have also dished it out. That's what we are seeing at the's a case of if you can't beat them join them.

  4. I like the second relay tweak (The Relay squadron must be in command range of the commanding ship). For flotillas, I propose an alternate fix:
    4. If a players has activated all their flotillas and their opponent has not, they can pass during the ship phase (choosing again whether to pass activating after their opponent activates as long as the opponent still has flotillas left to activate).

  5. I like Rieekan 4 too, but modified so that zombie fighters only lose their keywords (like escort).