Another Review from a Tabletop Vet

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duck_bird
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Another Review from a Tabletop Vet

Postby duck_bird » 15 April 2016, 19:00

Hey folks,

Alrighty so I'm going to preface this with a disclaimer. I've seen that y'all are something of a touchy bunch, so I'm going to say up front that this is all my opinions and preferences from the game. I really really want this game to succeed and be good. I grew up playing both warhammers as well as BFG. I still play other tabletop space games regularly. Even though I haven't played Warhammer in ages, I still love the universe and it holds a special place in my heart. I really do want this game to be great.

I'm also a big computer gamer and have been playing games since I was very young. But I'm pushing 30 now and my Broodwar days of playing on FISH and ICCUP are behind me. I'm slowing down and my wrists just can't take that kind of abuse anymore lol. So again, all personal opinion coming from someone who loves the universe and game and wants to share their idea of what makes a solid Naval Strategy Game, but still knows what a competitive micro-intensive RTS feels like.

The first thing I've noticed with this game is the user interface. We've all got plenty of gripes with it, and the devs have said there are plans to improve upon it, but it's still worth noting. Hotkeys not being labeled, certain skills (Vaul's Maneuver) being impossible to hotkey-cast, and the general dearth of information regarding abilities and ship status are a real pain. Lack of formation controls, etc. So I'm not going to harp on the interface. It needs to be fixed up, but since it's already on the dev's radar I'll skip it for now.

My biggest complaint with this game and what prevents it from feeling like a tactical naval game and more like a micro-battle is the overall pacing of the game and the abundance of skills, many of which directly go against the feel and flavor of factions. Ships in general are way more maneuverable than they are supposed to be, and pretty much every ship can make micro jumps in any direction. This really takes away from what I feel the focus of the game should be: Positioning and Maneuvering. If I mess up and get a ship out of position, I just teleport it to safety or behind the enemy or something. Instead of carefully planning an approach where my fleet can cut through his and get multiple broadsides off, I can just do one pass and then turn on a dime to get the other shot off. If I isolate an enemy ship from the rest of his fleet, he just hops it away. Ships are too fast and too mobile for much planning to go into approaches and clashes.

Skills compound this issue. Bomb spam is one thing, and their abundance often makes me feel like I'm focused more on checking all my ships constantly to make sure I'm not wasting cooldowns, rather than worrying about fleet position. Skills like TAUNT are absurd. Never mind it's the only counter to Eldar right now (a problem in its own right) but a skill which takes control away from your opponent is bad game design, and hilariously against the fluff. Traktor beams are another ridiculous skill, and used mainly to crash enemy ships into either yourself or each other. These abilities don't really have any reasonable counter. A taunted ship is SOL unless you remembered to set it to 12k broadsides before it got taunted, and even then, the fact that you can't control your ship for 15 seconds (possibly way longer if your opponent brought lots of taunt) is crazy.

My next gripe is one major aspect of tabletop naval games which has been removed from Armada: Deployment and open lists! Now I understand that the new stealth mechanics add a layer of strategy to the game, but it often boils down to "silent run my mission ship away." In tabletop, both players take turns deploying their ships, all of which are visible to each other. Plenty of room for mind games and strategy, as well as a strategic incentive to take more smaller ships to give you an edge in deployment. I really feel this could have been a great way to add another layer of planning and strategy to the game.

Moving on, the fact that ships level without any change in points value is absurd in a multiplayer game. Sure, a matchmaking system upon release will fix some of these issues by making sure admirals of similar level are playing against each other, but it's crazy for a ship which is objectively better than another to cost the same points. The leveling and persistent fleet is awesome for a single player campaign. It was a great part of tabletop campaigns. It's silly for multiplayer matches. If I load up a game with some new ships only to discover that my opponent has all level 10 ships, there's really little I can do. Sure I could try to outplay the hell out of him, but there's a limit to which such things should be expected. I should not have to turn it up to 11 early on simply because my ships are objectively weaker than his. Ship upgrades, skills, and crew points should be interchangeable at will, and cost POINTS. This adds another element of strategy to list building. Do I want to take several cheaper stock ships? Do I want to take a pair of souped up battlecruisers? Is it worth putting extra trinkets on my battleship? As is, higher level ships are strictly better than lower level ones, and the only thought going into ship design is maximizing performance of the options you get essentially for free.

Following with this, the point split between ships is very strange. It seems to heavily favor taking bigger ships. A battlecruiser puts out a hell of a lot more firepower than a regular cruiser, but really doesn't cost all that much more. In tabletop, a battleship was roughly twice the points of a cruiser, an escorts were often 1/4 to 1/6 the price of a cruiser. It provided more fleet diversity, as the decision to take multiple smaller ships was very viable. On this note, the very limited fleet roster is a shame. Only 3 cruisers in a completed fleet? Really forcing my hand here in fleet selection!

Special orders are another system which I feel should be revised. As is they provide decent boosts, but the extremely long cooldowns and straightforward bonuses means there often isn't much of a decision to make. I would love to see special orders changed to be more like stances. Ships should be able to switch through them more easily. In tabletop, they all had perks and drags.

All Ahead Full gave your ship a big boost in speed! But you could not turn and your weapons were less effective.
Come to New Heading let you make much sharper turns at the cost of firepower for the duration.
Lock On gave you a major boost to accuracy, but your ships could not make turns during it.
Burn Retros allowed your ship to stop and turn on the spot, but once again at a cost to speed and damage output.
Brace For Impact gave you an armor boost, and the cost of damage output.
Reload Ordnance allowed you to refill your hangers and torpedo tubes, but you couldn't use other orders.

A system like this allows for much more decision making involved in issuing special orders rather than "my carnages had basically keep Lock On activated on cooldown, or else I am objectively missing out on damage output."

Lastly, I'm going to harp on balance. Let me open by saying that the fact that most upgrades and skills are available to all factions is crazy. There is no way to balance that. Things like taunt, micro jump, statis bombs, etc, have very different effects depending on which fleet can use them. More importantly, they can be used to effectively negate inherent faction flavor. Ork ships which can teleport short distances, force you to stick close to them, and literally drag you around really detracts from their role as slow heavily armored juggernauts. Chaos ships being able to drop a wall of statis bombs in front of an IN fleet desperately trying to close is wild. Now, an Ork cruiser smashing into you and firing its bombardment cannons should be pretty devastating. But I should have had options to prevent that from happening. It's next to impossible if he can pull my ship into him and then take away my ability to control it. An Eldar alpha strike should hit pretty hard, but if he flies straight at me through open space with no cover of any sort, I should be able to do SOMETHING about it. As an Imperial player, I should need to angle my approach to land torpedo volleys. The fact that I can warp jump directly next to you and then fire 6 torps in your face is absurd.

The speed at which fleets close with each other means that prow weapons on most non-Eldar ships are not as useful as they could be. The Murder and Hades are pretty savagely outclassed by the Carnage and Acheron. Those fore lances don't have much going for them. They will never inflict enough damage on approach compared to turrets and broadside batteries which can do consistent damage as ships circle each other.

The Eldar as they stand are ridiculous. I should not be forced to spam taunt to counter them. Nor should I need to rely on my opponent making mistakes to have a chance. I similarly shouldn't need to rely on RNG to land those lucky crits I need to make them no-longer-invulnerable. Pulsar alpha burst, combined with the nigh impenetrability of holofields and Eldar speed mean that I rarely feel like I "outplayed" an Eldar opponent. Even if I win, it's likely because I got absurdly lucky and blew up a generator on the first pass, or my opponent majorly screwed up and crashed into me. Neither are satisfying. Playing against a competent Eldar who doesn't roll natural 1's is impossibly frustrating. Without taunt spam, there is almost nothing you can do.

Finally, the insubordination mechanic adds another unnecessary element of randomness to the game. It makes the commissar crew upgrades a no-brainer. But if you don't have those, and you lose a ship, there's a what, 4% chance other ships will bail? What kind of mechanic is that? Give players more control over ships, rather than less, and give incentive to keeping ships alive.

Anyway, I'm rambling at this point and have lost my train of thought. I really want this game to succeed. But as is, I fear it'll face multiplayer death in a matter of months. Honestly I find myself playing mostly out of BFG nostalgia, and less because the fun of gameplay outweighs its frustrations. I really feel this game has got tremendous potential, but a lot of the decision making going into its design leaves me puzzled.
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HERO
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Re: Another Review from a Tabletop Vet

Postby HERO » 15 April 2016, 19:07

Anyway, I'm rambling at this point and have lost my train of thought. I really want this game to succeed. But as is, I fear it'll face multiplayer death in a matter of months. Honestly I find myself playing mostly out of BFG nostalgia, and less because the fun of gameplay outweighs its frustrations. I really feel this game has got tremendous potential, but a lot of the decision making going into its design leaves me puzzled.


This has been the most quality first post I've seen in months. Seriously, thank you.

I also agree with you greatly, except for the "fog of war" detection blip. However, I do think that the 5k detection range is absurd though, it should be much greater on every single ship.

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Re: Another Review from a Tabletop Vet

Postby Dulahan » 15 April 2016, 19:20

I am right there with you on the Bomb Spam and all the abilities. They seem way too powerful and against the spirit of the source material, in my opinion. Most were definitely not things in it. Maybe if they could be used once, period, and there were fewer options. Or alternately, I'd gladly download a mod they were taken out of too.

Almost like this game was being developed for a different property, then got the license, and decided to go with that but not quite eliminating some of the extras.

Horatius Cocles
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Re: Another Review from a Tabletop Vet

Postby Horatius Cocles » 15 April 2016, 19:30

duck_bird wrote:Hey folks,

Alrighty so I'm going to preface this with a disclaimer. I've seen that y'all are something of a touchy bunch, so I'm going to say up front that this is all my opinions and preferences from the game. I really really want this game to succeed and be good. I grew up playing both warhammers as well as BFG. I still play other tabletop space games regularly. Even though I haven't played Warhammer in ages, I still love the universe and it holds a special place in my heart. I really do want this game to be great.

I'm also a big computer gamer and have been playing games since I was very young. But I'm pushing 30 now and my Broodwar days of playing on FISH and ICCUP are behind me. I'm slowing down and my wrists just can't take that kind of abuse anymore lol. So again, all personal opinion coming from someone who loves the universe and game and wants to share their idea of what makes a solid Naval Strategy Game, but still knows what a competitive micro-intensive RTS feels like.

The first thing I've noticed with this game is the user interface. We've all got plenty of gripes with it, and the devs have said there are plans to improve upon it, but it's still worth noting. Hotkeys not being labeled, certain skills (Vaul's Maneuver) being impossible to hotkey-cast, and the general dearth of information regarding abilities and ship status are a real pain. Lack of formation controls, etc. So I'm not going to harp on the interface. It needs to be fixed up, but since it's already on the dev's radar I'll skip it for now.

My biggest complaint with this game and what prevents it from feeling like a tactical naval game and more like a micro-battle is the overall pacing of the game and the abundance of skills, many of which directly go against the feel and flavor of factions. Ships in general are way more maneuverable than they are supposed to be, and pretty much every ship can make micro jumps in any direction. This really takes away from what I feel the focus of the game should be: Positioning and Maneuvering. If I mess up and get a ship out of position, I just teleport it to safety or behind the enemy or something. Instead of carefully planning an approach where my fleet can cut through his and get multiple broadsides off, I can just do one pass and then turn on a dime to get the other shot off. If I isolate an enemy ship from the rest of his fleet, he just hops it away. Ships are too fast and too mobile for much planning to go into approaches and clashes.

Skills compound this issue. Bomb spam is one thing, and their abundance often makes me feel like I'm focused more on checking all my ships constantly to make sure I'm not wasting cooldowns, rather than worrying about fleet position. Skills like TAUNT are absurd. Never mind it's the only counter to Eldar right now (a problem in its own right) but a skill which takes control away from your opponent is bad game design, and hilariously against the fluff. Traktor beams are another ridiculous skill, and used mainly to crash enemy ships into either yourself or each other. These abilities don't really have any reasonable counter. A taunted ship is SOL unless you remembered to set it to 12k broadsides before it got taunted, and even then, the fact that you can't control your ship for 15 seconds (possibly way longer if your opponent brought lots of taunt) is crazy.

My next gripe is one major aspect of tabletop naval games which has been removed from Armada: Deployment and open lists! Now I understand that the new stealth mechanics add a layer of strategy to the game, but it often boils down to "silent run my mission ship away." In tabletop, both players take turns deploying their ships, all of which are visible to each other. Plenty of room for mind games and strategy, as well as a strategic incentive to take more smaller ships to give you an edge in deployment. I really feel this could have been a great way to add another layer of planning and strategy to the game.

Moving on, the fact that ships level without any change in points value is absurd in a multiplayer game. Sure, a matchmaking system upon release will fix some of these issues by making sure admirals of similar level are playing against each other, but it's crazy for a ship which is objectively better than another to cost the same points. The leveling and persistent fleet is awesome for a single player campaign. It was a great part of tabletop campaigns. It's silly for multiplayer matches. If I load up a game with some new ships only to discover that my opponent has all level 10 ships, there's really little I can do. Sure I could try to outplay the hell out of him, but there's a limit to which such things should be expected. I should not have to turn it up to 11 early on simply because my ships are objectively weaker than his. Ship upgrades, skills, and crew points should be interchangeable at will, and cost POINTS. This adds another element of strategy to list building. Do I want to take several cheaper stock ships? Do I want to take a pair of souped up battlecruisers? Is it worth putting extra trinkets on my battleship? As is, higher level ships are strictly better than lower level ones, and the only thought going into ship design is maximizing performance of the options you get essentially for free.

Following with this, the point split between ships is very strange. It seems to heavily favor taking bigger ships. A battlecruiser puts out a hell of a lot more firepower than a regular cruiser, but really doesn't cost all that much more. In tabletop, a battleship was roughly twice the points of a cruiser, an escorts were often 1/4 to 1/6 the price of a cruiser. It provided more fleet diversity, as the decision to take multiple smaller ships was very viable. On this note, the very limited fleet roster is a shame. Only 3 cruisers in a completed fleet? Really forcing my hand here in fleet selection!

Special orders are another system which I feel should be revised. As is they provide decent boosts, but the extremely long cooldowns and straightforward bonuses means there often isn't much of a decision to make. I would love to see special orders changed to be more like stances. Ships should be able to switch through them more easily. In tabletop, they all had perks and drags.

All Ahead Full gave your ship a big boost in speed! But you could not turn and your weapons were less effective.
Come to New Heading let you make much sharper turns at the cost of firepower for the duration.
Lock On gave you a major boost to accuracy, but your ships could not make turns during it.
Burn Retros allowed your ship to stop and turn on the spot, but once again at a cost to speed and damage output.
Brace For Impact gave you an armor boost, and the cost of damage output.
Reload Ordnance allowed you to refill your hangers and torpedo tubes, but you couldn't use other orders.

A system like this allows for much more decision making involved in issuing special orders rather than "my carnages had basically keep Lock On activated on cooldown, or else I am objectively missing out on damage output."

Lastly, I'm going to harp on balance. Let me open by saying that the fact that most upgrades and skills are available to all factions is crazy. There is no way to balance that. Things like taunt, micro jump, statis bombs, etc, have very different effects depending on which fleet can use them. More importantly, they can be used to effectively negate inherent faction flavor. Ork ships which can teleport short distances, force you to stick close to them, and literally drag you around really detracts from their role as slow heavily armored juggernauts. Chaos ships being able to drop a wall of statis bombs in front of an IN fleet desperately trying to close is wild. Now, an Ork cruiser smashing into you and firing its bombardment cannons should be pretty devastating. But I should have had options to prevent that from happening. It's next to impossible if he can pull my ship into him and then take away my ability to control it. An Eldar alpha strike should hit pretty hard, but if he flies straight at me through open space with no cover of any sort, I should be able to do SOMETHING about it. As an Imperial player, I should need to angle my approach to land torpedo volleys. The fact that I can warp jump directly next to you and then fire 6 torps in your face is absurd.

The speed at which fleets close with each other means that prow weapons on most non-Eldar ships are not as useful as they could be. The Murder and Hades are pretty savagely outclassed by the Carnage and Acheron. Those fore lances don't have much going for them. They will never inflict enough damage on approach compared to turrets and broadside batteries which can do consistent damage as ships circle each other.

The Eldar as they stand are ridiculous. I should not be forced to spam taunt to counter them. Nor should I need to rely on my opponent making mistakes to have a chance. I similarly shouldn't need to rely on RNG to land those lucky crits I need to make them no-longer-invulnerable. Pulsar alpha burst, combined with the nigh impenetrability of holofields and Eldar speed mean that I rarely feel like I "outplayed" an Eldar opponent. Even if I win, it's likely because I got absurdly lucky and blew up a generator on the first pass, or my opponent majorly screwed up and crashed into me. Neither are satisfying. Playing against a competent Eldar who doesn't roll natural 1's is impossibly frustrating. Without taunt spam, there is almost nothing you can do.

Finally, the insubordination mechanic adds another unnecessary element of randomness to the game. It makes the commissar crew upgrades a no-brainer. But if you don't have those, and you lose a ship, there's a what, 4% chance other ships will bail? What kind of mechanic is that? Give players more control over ships, rather than less, and give incentive to keeping ships alive.

Anyway, I'm rambling at this point and have lost my train of thought. I really want this game to succeed. But as is, I fear it'll face multiplayer death in a matter of months. Honestly I find myself playing mostly out of BFG nostalgia, and less because the fun of gameplay outweighs its frustrations. I really feel this game has got tremendous potential, but a lot of the decision making going into its design leaves me puzzled.


I agree with almost all of this, especially the active abilities and upgrades being shared by everyone...

And that the point costs have no basis in the effectiveness of ships... To which I'll add that there almost never seems to be a choice as to which ship to choose and what upgrades abilities to give them... Almost always there seems to be an objectively better option for upgrades or a required ability (taunt/stasis) if you want a chance against anyone faster than you...

And did anyone play test the game modes? Wtf?

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Re: Another Review from a Tabletop Vet

Postby EriovaR » 15 April 2016, 20:25

duck_bird wrote: (...)


+1000 no complaints.

HERO wrote:I also agree with you greatly, except for the "fog of war" detection blip. However, I do think that the 5k detection range is absurd though, it should be much greater on every single ship.


Yes more range. And I think should "war fog" behind the cloud/asteroide ect aditional of actual camo inside

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Re: Another Review from a Tabletop Vet

Postby Keioel » 15 April 2016, 21:11

I agree completely, the thing that surprised me the most when I first loaded up the game was the fact that each fleet shares the same special abilities. They are completely different animals which is represented by the fact that they have different favors, but they should have taken that a logical step further and made differing special abilities.

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Re: Another Review from a Tabletop Vet

Postby Sibiryak » 15 April 2016, 22:55

Very good summary of the underlying issues with the current game. Besides a few inconsequential points, I agree with you.

Someone page the devs, if there is any posts they read on the forums, it should be this one.


(This is like a less abrasive version of HERO).

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Re: Another Review from a Tabletop Vet

Postby BrianDavion » 15 April 2016, 23:08

Orks and eldar have some varying special abilities. I like to think the devs are gonna be increasing faction flavor abilty wise down the road

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Re: Another Review from a Tabletop Vet

Postby Zephyranthes » 15 April 2016, 23:10

Points are fine when it's a base thing, but it's bad when they are ignored in situations like Favours where some were almost 2x the cost of others, and surprise, here those expensive Favours are much more used than the cheaper ones.

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triumph
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Re: Another Review from a Tabletop Vet

Postby triumph » 16 April 2016, 00:08

This thread nails it.


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