Tag: Game

Armada Reborn: The Immobilizer 418 (and Friends)

Armada Reborn: The Immobilizer 418 (and Friends)

Part 2 of the Star Wars: Armada Reborn series.

Today we’ve got a bit of a doozy – we’ll start talking about the other winner of the Onil Creations first painting contest and their ship. The ship that they chose was the Vindicator-class Heavy Cruiser. This one is going to need a bit of explanation.

First and foremost, if they submitted the Vindicator, why are we covering the Immobilizer 418 Cruiser? For that, we have to get into the nerd lore again.

Within Star Wars (Legends) lore, the Vindicator-class and the Immobilizer 418 cruisers shared the same basic frame. This is similar to how the Imperial-class Star Destroyer shared the same frame with the Interdictor-class Star Destroyer. This second fact isn’t reflected in Star Wars: Armada, as the Interdictor in the game is a medium-based ship vs. the large-based ship ISD. It’s also severely under-gunned for what it is, but we can forgive that for game design – after all, the Interdictors are kind of odd in Armada, and don’t function the way they would in-universe.

So, if we want to accurately scale to the Vindicator, we should first take the Armada-official Interdictor and scale it down to its 418 sibling. This is the step in-between the start and the end goal, but it’s where I start throwing a bunch of fun numbers around. Let’s dive in.

Comparing the Interdictor-class Star Destroyer and the Immobilizer 418

The first thing we can do is a good old fashioned table.

SpecificationInterdictor SDImmobilizer 418
Length1600 meters600 meters
Acceleration2300 G1210 G
Shielding4800 SBD2240 SBD
Hull2272 RU960 RU
Heavy Turbolasers150
Quad Laser Cannons020 (10 fore, 5 each side)
Ion Cannons150
Tractor Beams20
Gravity Well Projectors44
Starfighters1624
Crew370852807

As I mentioned before, the Interdictor-class Star Destroyer was built from an Imperial I-class Star Destroyer. Thus, acceleration and shielding has been taken from that where available, using information from the very comprehensive Star Wars D6 ship listings, the Saga Edition d20 listings, and other sources such as game data.

Now, we need to translate those changes into an Armada ship. We’ll go with the only useful Interdictor – the Interdictor Suppression Refit. (Go ahead, argue with me. The only reason to bring an Interdictor is the Experimental Retrofit slot, so otherwise you’re paying for a crappy ISD.

How I plan to convert stats

Originally I was going to put a big long section here – instead, I’ve decided to make the conversion guide its own post. See how I approach a lore-heavy ship into an Armada-friendly ship here.

The Baseline Ship

Alright, if you went through the conversion document then you have a fantastic attention span, and I commend you. If you’re still with me, then let’s talk about the Interdictor Suppresion Refit, an official card.

Hull: 9
Command: 2
Squadron: 2
Engineering: 5
Anti-Starfighter: 1 blue
Shields (Front, Side, Back): 3/2/2
Defense Tokens: Brace, Redirect, Contain, Contain
Movement Chart

Speed 1Speed 2Speed 3Speed 4
xxxx
xxxx
xIxx
IIxx
If it has an X, the ship can’t do it. Each I is one click of the navigation tool at that speed.

Weapon Batteries:

ArcRed DiceBlue DiceBlack Dice
Front130
Sides130
Rear120
Anti-Starfighter010

Upgrade Slots: Captain, Support Team, Offensive Retrofit, Experimental Retrofit 1, Experimental Retrofit 2, Ion Cannons, Title
Point Cost: 90

Examining the Stats

So, with all of that in mind you get… Kind of a weird ship. If you consider each component individually then on paper you absolutely get your money’s worth out of it. With a consistent (if not too exciting) attack pool, it doesn’t matter as much which arc you’re shooting from, you’ve got standard maneuverability, and your Engineering (the least used of the three stats) is the best in the game. You have a thick hull but weak shields, and a defense token pool to reflect that.

What makes this ship shine is, of course, its upgrade slots. As the only ship able to use the Experimental Retrofit cards (there’s only four, and you don’t see two of them played much) it has the edge there, and the Support Team/Offensive Retrofit/Ion Cannons allow for some nice combos.

However, this will never be a ship killer. The average damage for its three main arcs is a total of 3, before the defender uses any redirect tokens. It can do a number on shields if it has an Ion Cannon upgrade, but you need to be within blue range of your target for that, which is less than ideal. This will lose vs. a Rebel Providence-class Carrier (at 95 points) or even an Assault Frigate Mark II B (at 72 points), because it will be taking fire before it can even get within range, and its shields are easy to crack. Fighters can get through it, and despite its appearance, its lack of good defense tokens means it can be an easy target.

How is it used? In interesting and really clever ways. I’ve seen Interdictors loaded to be a damage sponge, using the engineering value to constantly move around and regenerate shields. I’ve seen it as a force multiplier for Imperial Star Destroyers, and I’ve even seen it used as a fighter pusher (I know, I was impressed). It’s clear it has more utility than meets the eye, and that mentality is what I want to bring down to the 418 and the Vindicator.

Converting the Interdictor

Size, Speed, & Maneuverability

By the official numbers, the Interdictor-class Star Destroyer should be a large base ship, so ignoring that oversight we will need to make the Immobilizer 418 a medium base. This feels right, as small ships are consistently 400 meters or less, but looks odd since it’s going to be the same size as its big brother.

It’s got a standard navigation chart, only really hurt by topping out at Speed 2. You can put an Engine Tech on there to make it essentially speed 3, but it’s not too sustainable to keep it full throttle because you’ll need your tokens elsewhere. Since this is a much smaller ship, I think we can say its engines will do some work for us – I would add a Speed 3, with the first notch straight but the second and third allowing a click.

Command, Squadron, and Engineering

The Immobilizer 418 is just a smaller version of its big brother, so not much would change. A medium ship should have a Command value of 2, so we’ll keep that. It actually has more starfighters than the Interdictor Star Destroyer, so I guess we’ll keep Squadrons at 2 as well. It simply can’t have the same lineup, though, so Engineering we will bring back to the more reasonable-for-its-size value of 3.

Defenses

It’s honestly hard to bring the shields down further – however, since this ship isn’t supposed to be fighting on its own, I think a reasonable case can be made for 3 front, 2 sides, and 1 rear. I was considering a 2 all-around, but with a lower Engineering value it’s not going to be manipulated quite as much.

As for tokens, I think all we need to do here is drop one of the existing Contains so we’re still left with a Brace, Redirect, and Contain. That feels good for a medium ship, so moving on.

The hull is going to take a significant downgrade – I would bring it to a 5. That’s not much, but any more feels wrong for what boils down to a support ship. Honestly, I would have wanted to bring it to a 4, but with a CR90 having the same hull we would have an issue.

Armament

For its main battery, we have an interesting choice. Per the lore, the 418 doesn’t have any Ion Cannons or missiles, just some quad laser cannons. We could cut its dice in half to make it just a really bad shooter, or we could convert those to fewer red dice since they’re weaker turbolasers. I think I would land somewhere along this:

ArcRed DiceBlue DiceBlack Dice
Front030
Sides020
Rear020
Anti-Starfighter020

We’ve reduced its utility since it can’t reach out and fire with a red dice, and we’ve lowered the dice count significantly. However, we’ve given it blue dice, which are the most consistent. 24 quad laser cannons are going to hit, so it felt right there.

Note that I actually upped its Anti-Starfighter dice. The same principle applies – since these are quad laser cannons and not turbolaser cannons, they’re smaller and faster guns, so they will hit more consistently.

Upgrades

This one is easier. We need to reduce the main reason you would bring an Interdictor at all – cut one of the Experimental Retrofits. The ship also seems small enough to not need a Support team and there are no ion cannons, so what we’re left with is: Captain, Offensive Retrofit, Experimental Retrofit, Title. It’s sparse, but you’re bringing this for the Experimental Retrofit. Anything else is trying to use a screwdriver to pull nails – there are better tools for the job.

So, what do we get for all that cutting?

The Immobilizer 418 Cruiser

Hull: 5
Command: 2
Squadron: 2
Engineering: 3
Anti-Starfighter: 2 blue
Shields (Front, Side, Back): 3/2/1
Defense Tokens: Brace, Redirect, Contain
Movement Chart

Speed 1Speed 2Speed 3Speed 4
xxxx
xxIx
xIIx
IIx
x = can’t do it, each | is one click on the navigation tool, each – is a straight on the navigation tool.

Weapon Batteries

ArcRed DiceBlue DiceBlack Dice
Front030
Sides020
Rear020
Anti-Starfighter020

Upgrade Slots: Captain, Offensive Retrofit, Experimental Retrofit, Title
Point Cost: 65 points

Overall, I think this is a decent utility ship. You aren’t going to get much firepower out of it, but you could certainly take advantage of the Experimental Retrofit slot and the Offensive Retrofit together – pushing three squadrons is a solid benefit while you’re acting as a force multiplier for an Imperial-class escort.

This is a ship where I could use some suggestions – first as feedback on the utility of the chassis from other player’s perspectives and second as to a fair price for it. We know it would need to be under 90 so it doesn’t cost more than its better version, and the sorta-close-in-a-different-way Quasar Fire I is 54 points, so we have that range to play with.

Eventually it would be nice to come up with some sort of formula to roughly calculate what cost should be, but with the existing prices (particularly with starfighters) I don’t think such a thing exists.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so share them below, and buckle in for the Vindicator.

Customizing & Expanding Star Wars: Armada

Customizing & Expanding Star Wars: Armada

Hi everyone,

This is probably going to be the first “long-ish form” post I’ve put here, and the first post on any blog for a while. Before we dig in, some background:

There’s a wonderful game called Star Wars: Armada, formerly by Fantasy Flight Games and then handed off to Atomic Mass Games. It’s part of a three-game Star Wars Miniatures set:

  • Armada is the fleet-wide battle system where you command capital ships and fighters
  • X-Wing is the squadron/fighter based system where you control a few pilots in a dogfight
  • Legion is the ground-based fighting where you command troops, walkers, and vehicles

I’ve gone a little bit into X-Wing (which came out before the other two), but haven’t spent time with Legion (the newest of the three). I’ve got the Middle Earth mini game to sink my money on, thank you.

The AMG Fiasco

Shortly after Atomic Mass Games took over the Star Wars franchise games, they announced that they had nothing in the works for Star Wars Armada for at least the next year and a half, and they’ll revisit it then. It… didn’t go over well with players, and has gone a long way towards damaging the game.

This is where my hobby for 3D printing comes in. I started printing minis for an ongoing D&D campaign, which then escalated into Lord of the Rings miniatures, and now has invaded Armada. Printing my own ships and squadrons? Limited only by the resin I can buy on Amazon? We’re in trouble heaven.

Finding good models was the difficult part. Eventually, I came across a designer who publishes his from-scratch 3D models under Onil Creations (Thingiverse Link). I then found his Patreon, which is where I hit the gold mine. I highly recommend supporting him if you want to print some neat Star Wars ships.

ANYWAY. I’m on a personal printing hiatus while I get through all of the paint backlog. However, in his Discord I got to see some really beautiful paint jobs as part of a painting contest. Being a volunteer moderator, as the prize I offered to create ship cards in the style of Star Wars Armada cards. These cards could be printed at home (or through a professional printer) and played in friendly games. A few examples are below.

I have to say… It was pretty fun. While the artwork at the top could use some improvement (my main computer with all of the graphics software is old and tired), the potential for new Armada ships is exciting. After designing some cards and getting really into the weeds on Star Wars lore and figuring out game stats, I decided I might as well publish something about the stupid amount of work that went into them.

Star Wars: Armada – Reborn

Like many games before it, the players will have to come together and save this game, too. The best example is NISEI, a non-profit fan-created set of expansions for Android: Netrunner, a great card game if you ever get into it. If Netrunner fans can create something, then Star Wars fans can almost certainly create it too – after all, if we’re still around after the last trilogy, we must be dedicated.

This post is more or less my letter of intent. Other posts will be published soon that showcase some of the work so far. I would love for any Armada players to comment on the threads with their input. If we get enough activity around the idea then we can make it more formal and all become great game developers one day.

Since I don’t have a post ready as of publication (but they are on the way), you can check out some 3D printed ships for my custom Star Wars: Armada task force – The Hapan Fleet. No stats yet, but we’ll get there. 🙂

Lifeline – A Game in Review

Lifeline – A Game in Review


Note: This post was originally hosted on my professional blog on July 11, 2015. It has since been relocated here.


Lifeline – An Interactive Fiction Mobile Game

Last weekend I found myself in a very long-feeling car trip. With a disinterest in reading or doodling, I decided to browse the Google Play store for a fun little distraction to take up the next couple of hours – it was then I stumbled on Lifeline ($0.99 – App Store | Google Play), a text-based RPG for both iOS and Android.

What kind of game is it?

For those of you unfamiliar with the genre, don’t feel bad – text-based RPGs have been long and dead for quite a while now, at least on mainstream gaming. The best analogy would be a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book where you’re thrown into the shoes of a character and ultimately make the decisions that determine their fate. It’s a very basic predecessor for the huge blockbuster RPGs like Baldur’s Gate, Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, and so on.

Time doesn’t typically hold well for these games. Often they’re confusing for players unfamiliar with the system, and they’re relentlessly punishing – turning left down a passage could lead you to riches, and turning right straight to ruin. Back to the start. I was feeling a little nostalgic, so on seeing so many positive reviews for Lifeline, I decided to splurge and pay the minimal cost for the app.

What is Lifeline?

Lifeline, surprisingly, was something totally different compared to what I’d expected. Most text-based RPGs can be played out at your own pace – assuming there’s a save slot, you can take as much or as little time as you’d like and play through in one sitting.

This is not the case with this quirky little game. Instead, Lifeline uses a drastically different gameplay hook. The second I fired up the game, here’s what I saw:

The opening dialogue for the game.

Instead of the typical intro of “You find yourself in a forest…”, I was getting what was the equivalent of frantic text messages from a strange person in distress. Interesting! After a brief set of messages I was given one of two answers to choose from – I would select, and almost immediately you’d see waiting dots, and within a few seconds a brief, humanlike reply from the other line. This time, you weren’t the hero – you were talking to the hero. A nice twist!

You quickly come to find that the protagonist, a young science student named Taylor, is the sole survivor from a spaceship wreck on an uncharted planet. As if that weren’t bad enough, the hostile environment and stress seems to have thrown the character entirely off balance – suddenly, he’s asking YOU to make life or death decisions for him, and it’s up to you to take the reigns.

The story follows Taylor through the next few days on his voyage across the planet in hopes of finding something, anything, he could use to find his way home.

Lifeline Gameplay

Like I mentioned before, Lifeline touts itself as a text-based adventure where you choose the outcome. The interesting hitch about it is that it happens in real-time… You heard me – real time. Tell your character to work on opening a door? You’ll get an affirmative, and no further communication for the duration of his exercise. Tell him to go to sleep? You better be ready to wait six to eight hours – he won’t text, and you can’t even ping him for a status update. It’s an interesting twist – on the offhand you’ll peek at your phone throughout the day to see if you’d lead your little friend into a deathtrap or if he’d made it through that narrow canyon. Occasionally, something unexpected will happen and you’ll receive a flurry of frantic questions – should I push on or look for rations?

I hadn’t seen a dynamic like this before, so I almost instantly recommended it to a friend.

To clarify, although you get messages periodically, you aren’t forced to answer within a certain timespan. Taylor will wait for you, so this wouldn’t ever interrupt meetings or make you lose progress because you went to a movie. Good foresight by the developer.

Two Playthroughs In – My Opinion of Lifeline

Now that we’ve gotten mechanics out of the way, let’s talk about what I feel to be the notable points of the game.

Character Development

Among the rave reviews in the Google Play store, so many people said they felt a ‘deep connection’ to the character. To this, I say baloney.

The character is in an almost constant state of whining and complaining. While the state is totally understandable given the circumstances, the writing has the complexity of a fifteen year old’s best imitation at a panicked adult – with little to no depth or real character development, there are few things to get attached to.

At nearly every opportunity, he ridicules or disagrees with your answers to his questions. The only time he seems to react positively is when you tell him to do nothing – wait, go to sleep, hide out for a while… For a person in extreme situations, the character himself has zero desire to get himself out of the bad situation he’s in.

The (Illusion of) Choice

Typically, you’ll get a series of quick texts and updates, and then a question for advice. It will usually be something like “Check out the room” or “Move to the hallway”. When you choose the option, you’ll naturally get a complaint, but Taylor will do the actions…

… And then immediately turn around and do the other thing anyway. There are a few ways the game accomplishes this, here are a few examples I’ve seen countless times:

  • You tell Taylor to investigate Path A. He does so, finds nothing, and goes down Path B.
  • Taylor finds something of no significance at Path A. He might note that it’s cold in the room or something is broken, but there’s no opportunity to interact. Now, you’re given the option to go to Path B or Path C. Don’t get excited, though – Path C ultimately puts you back a few steps… You exit the ship and have to re-enter, choosing the same options until you get to the original A/B choice.
  • You flat out die. This is of course a regular thing in text-based adventures, but the difference between a good and a bad one is that the good might give you a chance to recover. Maybe you have an item you picked up earlier that you spend to scrape by – not so in Lifeline. You simply die, and can choose to restart from the beginning of any specific day. More repetitive choices.
  • The choices don’t matter. Go left, go right – oh look, it turns out they both ended up at the same destination!

This, to me, destroys the sense of an actual game. People will argue day and night what makes a game a game. There are some games that have no story and are purely what you make it – a la Minecraft. Others are entirely story, and you’re more along for the ride – Gone Home could be considered in this vein. I’m typically in the camp that a game requires some sort of player choice or skill – Gone Home redeems itself by forcing the player to actually explore and think on their own – you have no such option in Lifeline.

The decay of the pacing gimmick

Novel at first, having to wait 30 minutes to get through a repeated action is certainly not entertaining. Even worse – sometimes you wait four hours to have a “character building” conversation with Taylor, mostly where he complains, walks a bit, makes a fourth-wall breaking joke in an attempt to parody the sci-fi genre, and continues on his way.

On the other hand, sometimes the options won’t stop coming. They’ll be trivial things – a (paraphrased) example conversation:

  • Taylor: Should I check it out?
  • Player: Yes.
  • Taylor: Are you sure? It’s pretty scary in there.
  • Player: Yes, check it out.
  • Taylor: Okay… Hold on.
  • Taylor: I’m in, but it’s dark. Should I look around or go back outside?
  • Player: Check out the hallway.
  • Taylor: I only have a single glowstick left, are you sure?
  • Player: Yes.
  • Taylor: Okay, but this is just like a horror movie, and I don’t like it.
  • Taylor: Well, I didn’t see anything, so I headed back outside.

HIGH TENSION GAMEPLAY THERE!

A Judgement call on Lifeline

The simple answer is that Lifeline is worth about what you pay for it – $0.99. Although it had the tools at hand to be a really interesting and dynamic story, the poor writing behind it turns it to more of a chore than a game. I stay hopeful that the developer (3 Minute Games) will see through a lot of the undeserved praise and learn from the first release – with the engine they’ve built, they could potentially make a very intriguing sequel or successor. At least their site is built on WordPress – that’s a good sign. 🙂

If you’ve got a buck to kill and a low tolerance for excitement, then by all means this is the game for you. For a player with any sort of experience in choice-based games or story-driven gameplay, just ignore the hype and let this one go by.

Positive Points Negative Points
  • An attempt to revitalize an old genre is always interesting.
  • The certainly unique interface is something I haven’t seen before – texting to a hero is a novel concept.
  • The real-time aspect is definitely cool, as it makes the game feel a little more immersive.
  • The ‘choice’ in the ‘choose your adventure’ aspect doesn’t really exist.
  • The Protagonist, Taylor, is a wholly unlikable character. At no point did he redeem himself.
  • Due to poor design, the game time is padded out in that you have to retrace your steps when you get an instant-lose option.
  • The “timed response” gimmick, while initially interesting, loses its novelty after the first day or so.
  • Eventually, the lack of story makes it feel more like you’re dealing with an acquaintance that won’t go away instead of helping a survivor get through a crisis.
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