Intelligence Leak: Reviewing Your Season 1 Feedback

PDF Document With Current Season 1 Changes

The Project Steering Committee is very thrilled with all your responses we’ve received this week! Not just the kind words and the expressions of excitement, but also your concerns about the Project and the changes we’ve suggested. We’ve been listening and responding to you in many different places on the Internet. We wanted to take this opportunity to collect those responses here and give you a chance to see what the Committee has planned for the next couple of weeks.

And over these next couple of weeks, keep communicating with us! If you haven’t already filled out the Community Feedback section of our Season 1 Announcement Survey, please do so. We also need your time as testers; the Survey has a section where you can report how our changes felt in your test game(s) — not just in how powerful the changes are, but how fun they are to play.

Analyze the Data, Plan the Attack

It’s not impossible. I used to bullseye Skirmish Rules in my T-16 back home, they’re not much bigger than two meters.

For the next 14 days, we want as much playtesting with the Season 1 suggestions as we can get. We need to know — from you, who love this game just as much as we do — which suggestions are great and which should be changed.

After reviewing the data, we’re planning on releasing modifications to the Season 1 suggestions on or around Friday, April 26th based off your feedback: adding new things, changing existing ones or removing the ones that just don’t work.

In the sections below, we review the feedback we’ve gotten and try to specify what we’re looking for in playtesting over the next two weeks. Thanks again to everyone who participated in our announcement survey!

On the Lam

We picked up on the IA Skirmish Community’s confusion about why we suggested a change to On the Lam — the Smuggler apex defense card — and how exactly our change was supposed to be played. That was our bad. On Monday, April 8th, the first full week of Season 1, we better clarified our goals with On the Lam and asked you to continue the conversation. Since that post, feedback about our On the Lam suggestion moved towards more positive results. The following is a summary of one of the On the Lam questions in our Announcement Survey:

As we mentioned in Monday’s post, we’re not opposed to modifying our suggestion to something more in line with the community’s vision. In particular, a significant number of you suggested the following wording:

Use while defending, before attack dice are rolled, to interrupt and perform a move.

We find this to be a reasonable change, and one that would allow for a different solution for reigning in the power of playing multiple Hunter cards. (We talk more about our Hunter card restriction rule below.)

What the Committee would like to see these next 2 weeks is your playtesting the On the Lam change we’ve suggested currently. We need you to tell us if, during game play, the new timing window makes sense. We need to know if the nerf in the card’s power still helps Smugglers stand toe-to-toe with Hunters (relative to our Hunter card restriction fix implemented this Season). We especially need this data about lists that feature Han Solo.

Hunter Card Restriction

The other part of our Season 1 Announcement that seemed to cause confusion was our suggested Hunter card restriction rule:

While performing an attack, a maximum of 1 Hunter card can be played during that attack. 

Our intention with this new rule is to prevent a very specific but problematic situation: When a single Hunter figure plays at least two of Assassinate, Heightened Reflexes and Tools for the Job to swell the damage suffered by the target into double-digits. We felt like this was especially unfair to Queen pieces, where they suffer as much damage in one attack that they normally should expect across 2 or 3 attacks. We felt like our solution would prevent such a game-swinging event from happening without preventing Hunters from pairing a Hunter card with other powerful attack-modifying cards like Element of Surprise.

This week we’ve reviewed your feedback and found that most of you have very mixed feelings about it:

When reviewing your written comments, those that approved of our suggestion were excited to see a meta where Hunters didn’t hold so much power in one attack. But some of you told us that you don’t think that playing more than one Hunter card during an attack is as big of a problem as we do. Others felt like the Hunter’s one huge attack is a problem, but our solution was clunky; that we were making a specific rule about just 3 Hunter cards, which isn’t something FFG has done in the past. We also heard concerns that this change might indirectly nerf Unique Hunter deployments because the restriction isn’t as rough on Elite Weequays and other multi-figure Hunter groups — they have two attacks to play at least 2 Hunter cards within one deployment activation.

Some of the community also suggested a replacement rule: Only one Command card can be played per player, per attack step. This would mean that an attacker could not play Tools For the Job and Element of Surprise together; likewise, the defender could not play Negation on the opponent’s Element of Surprise and Stealth Tactics. (There was a variant of this suggestion where only the attacker was limited to one Command card played per attack step.) We had considered such a change prior to announcing our Project. Our concerns with that change is that it would reduce attack output significantly across all traits, not just Hunters. The result would be a different meta, but one that heavily favored high-Health, high-defense Deployments.

Based on the community’s feedback, we’ve been trying to find a different way to stop the Hunter single-attack problem. We developed a solution that addresses only the most powerful of Hunter cards: Assassinate. We found that Assassinate (with its static 3 DMG output) combining with the other Hunter and attack cards is the catalyst causing a single attack to be too powerful. We would drop the Hunter card restriction completely and change the text for Assassinate to the following:

While attacking a figure, if this is the only Command card you play during this attack, apply +3 DMG to the attack results.

The “only Command card you play during this attack” language has never been used in Imperial Assault by FFG in the past. This new language prevents Hunters from spiking damage suffered from a single attack. This applies to every attack step: From “On Declare” effects like Primary Target through “when a figure is defeated” effects like Celebration. Cards that are played “after an attack is resolved” or “after an action is resolved” are not affected.

We feel that it’s also an interesting design space to explore, which might help us in a future Season create powerful Command cards that can’t get too powerful with other Command cards. Finally this Assassinate nerf pairs nicely with softening our On the Lam change to use the “before dice are rolled” language many of you suggested.

For the next two weeks, we’d like to see your playtesting results for the Hunter card restriction we have in place now: only 1 Hunter card per attack. If the community remains of mixed opinion about it, we’ll likely move to one of the two changes mentioned above, or a better idea submitted by one of you.

The Dark Lord of the Sith

With our nerfs to Hunter and Smugglers with the two Season suggestions mentioned above, we’ve received some concern that Darth Vader becomes nigh undefeatable. We have discussed this possibility, since Vader’s Driven By Hatred skirmish attachment was designed after Hunters gained all their powerful tools. We have theorized potentially giving Vader a soft nerf, like removing his Foresight ability. However we don’t feel comfortable suggesting any changes at this time until we get some playtesting results with Vader vs. our new Hunter card restriction or the On the Lam change. If you playtest with Vader vs. Hunters or Smugglers, please let us know how you feel those changes directly impact him.

Diala Passil Skirmish Attachment

Maybe we should have given her shoes.

We haven’t received as much feedback on the Diala attachment compared to the Hunter and On the Lam changes. The feedback we have gotten has been mostly positive with players noting that she is a blast to play, but may be too strong. Some feel that the white reroll should have the same effect on dodge as Kanan’s Soresu Form: rerolled dodges should count as 2 BLOCK 1 EVADE instead of DODGE. We mostly agree that this would be a great change. We’ve also heard concerns that her attack is too powerful with Force Throw setting up easy combos with Pummel and Parting Blow. We agree that these combos can be very powerful but we’d like more playtest data to find out whether or not these interactions are simply strong or whether they’re broken. If it proves to be to much the first change we have in mind is to change her surge ability from applying +2 DMG to +1 DMG.

Some players feel that her Shattering Blow ability shouldn’t have been sacrificed for her new abilities. We feel that every attachment card that costs 0 or less should have some penalty, such as Han losing Distracting, Vader losing Brutality and Chewie losing Protector. This gives players a choice to not run the attachment, albeit an easy choice in almost all of these cases. We’ve heard requests that Foresight be removed instead of Shattering Blow. We’ll keep that request in mind but don’t have immediate plans to change it.

Deployment Cost Changes

Currently we have just a handful of playtesting results and a slightly more evaluations from the community about the Deployment cost changes. We definitely want you all to maximize your experience with testing them for the next 2 weeks: Try to find exploits and Command card combinations that are overpowered. Mix these fixed units with units that are already top tier. If you find something that really breaks the game, let us know ASAP so we can address it. You can report your findings via the Announcement 1 Survey in the Testing Results section — you can take the survey again if you have already — or you can share it with us in the other locations where we already converse with you.

Below we address some of the concerns that were shared with us about specific Deployments.

Sabine Wren – Deployment cost increased from 7 to 8

Of all the point changes, Sabine’s cost increase has received the widest range of feedback. Some players suggested that Sabine was fine and didn’t require any changes. Others felt the cost increase accurately reflected her power level. Still others felt that changes to Parting Gift or Rebel Graffiti would be preferred changes rather than increasing her cost.

Our opinion of Sabine is fairly mixed as well. We see value in the following but are not settled on which is the best solution:

  • Just leaving Sabine alone at cost 7
  • Changing her Parting Gift die to a blue die (which slightly reduces the odds of targets suffering 2 DMG)
  • Parting Gift forces Sabine to suffer 1 STRAIN

In the meantime, please send us your playtesting experience with Sabine costing 8 points. If her price is too much of a millstone around her next, suggest a change you prefer and we’ll tally up the results in two weeks.

Kayn Somos – Deployment cost reduced from 10 to 6

Getting Kayn lower than 8 points generated excitement with many of you. Currently he and Ahsoka Tano are the only two figures that have been rated by playtesters as “Fun” or “Very Fun”.

Others are concerned that Kayn’s stats (including his Health of 12) are way above what a figure that costs 6 points should have. Additionally some of you expressed your concerns that Kayn is especially exploitable by the Death Troopers’ Field Tactics ability combined with immediate activation cards like Squad Swarm and Strength in Numbers. Please send us your playtesting results with this kind of army and Command deck build. If it proves to be too much, we’ll raise Kayn to cost 7 points and see if that helps for the rest of the Season. It may be that point adjustments isn’t sufficient to properly balance Kayn, in which case the Committee will work with the community to find a solution.

Luke Skywalker, Hero of the Rebellion – Deployment cost reduced from 10 to 9

The limited feedback we’ve gotten about Farmboy Luke has been consistant: He is not playable at 9 points. Over the next two weeks we’re looking for any build that, with Farmboy Luke at 9 points, suddenly becomes broken. If nothing is found, we’ll reduce Luke’s cost to 8 points and see if he’s worth playing then.

It may be that this deployment just needs a custom skirmish attachment to drag him kicking and screaming into the modern meta.

Elite Sentry Droid – Deployment cost reduced from 10/5 to 9/5

The limited feedback we have about Elite Sentry Droid’s power level so far has been wildly mixed — some feel that they’re underpowered, some find them balanced, some worry that they’re overpowered. We’ve also heard concerns that teaming up two groups of Elite Sentry Droids with Vader, his skirmish attachment and the whole Imperial fixin’s. We’d like to see more data with this Vader pairing and with Elite Sentry Droids working with two or more groups of Riot Troopers.

Elite Stormtroopers – Deployment cost reduced from 9/3 to 7/3

Another deployment group where the feedback we have is mixed between underpowered and balanced. We’ve also gotten some questions about why we didn’t reduce the figure cost of Elite Stormtroopers, since they are likely to be defeated by just one attack. We feel that by dropping the figures to a cost of 2, they will be too powerful in a Imperial Trooper Swarm list archtype. Regular Riot Troopers already have much better odds of surviving the first attack targeting them. Two groups of Elite Stormtroopers (with a figure cost of 2) combined with 4 groups of Regular Riot Troopers means an opponent must defeat 14 figures — with some not falling in just 1 attack — for a total of 20 VPs given by 34 Deployment points.

We’ve also heard from some of you that Elite Stormtrooper’s attack math just doesn’t punch through the defenses of modern figures. We feel that the attack math of Troopers in general is an issue, and we have plans to address this with the community in a future Season. In the meantime, we’d like to see the creative ways you use Elite Stormtrooper deployments to maximize their effectiveness. Your feedback will help guide our future Trooper improvements.

Elite Wookiee Warriors reduced from 11/6 to 9/5

We received positive feedback that players are excited to try the Wookiee changes, however we’ve also noted that 5 cost figures with 13 health could slow down the pace of play. As our main goal is to create a fun meta, if this change creates a style that makes the game less fun to play, we will consider tinkering with it.

Spectre Cell

As you can see, the Spectre Cell banning provided the most “strong” responses among our survey participants. It is also has the most people agreeing that the change should be implemented.

Most of you who disagreed with the change really liked the unique gameplay experience that Spectre Cell provided. We agree that being able to use a 6-figure list with an exhaustable extra attack and movement was especially unique and fun to play… if it wasn’t so oppressive on the rest of the metagame. We have no plans to unban Spectre Cell for the time being, but we definitely feel there is part of the community to see something like Spectre Cell come back — whether it is for the Spectre team specifically or for other combinations of unique heroes. In a future Season, we’ll ask the community if they’re ready for a fairer Spectre Cell.

Reinforcements Are On the Way

Starting today, we’re adding two Deployment groups to our suggested Deployment Cost changes:

Deployment Card Change
Elite Wing Guard (Mercenaries)Deployment cost reduced to 7/3
Elite Rebel Troopers (Rebels)Deployment cost reduced to 7/3

Several members of the community asked why we didn’t reduce the cost of these deployments when we also reduced the cost of Elite Stormtroopers. You’ve convinced us to mirror the changes. Like Elite Stormtroopers, these deployment groups may not have the attack math or other stats to be viable yet. We would like to see your creativity with these groups: The Elite Wing Guard open up more options for Strain lists, and Focused Elite Rebel Troopers may be able to matter a bit more now that Pierce is more important versus figures with a static Block result.

For the rest of this Season, we’re likely to not add any more changes to multi-figure Trooper deployments. We hope to address the Trooper trait specifically in the future, and we’ll be gathering your input on it.

Prepare Your Men For A Surface Attack

We hope that this post helps with your understanding of the Committee’s direction of the Project and your role in helping us keeping the game fun, fresh and worthy of your time. Please continue to share your feedback with us. We are planning on collecting all your feedback again for a post on Friday, April 26th. In the meantime, be sure to check with this blog regularly for announcements of resources, organized play and other fun ways to keep Imperial Assault Skirmish in our lives.

Feel free to share your changes by commenting on this post or using one of the other ways to communicate with us. Additionally, don’t forget to submit your playtest feedback to our Season 1 Announcement Survey.

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