Hi guys and welcome to my first guest article for Rogue Outpost, today we are going to take a look at the possible ideas or ways that objectives could be integrated into the current game (assuming we are using the currently listed ROAD rules) and what a mock up set of rules would look like.
Why Introduce Control Points?
Currently the game of X-wing has only 1 default game mode that is used for the majority of it’s games and tournaments, that being the archetype of Skirmish/Elimination/Deathmatch, where players aim for destroying as many of their opponents ships as possible while trying to preserve their own (to make things easier I will refer to the default mode as Deathmatch).
There are other modes like Escalation, Epic and Aces high, but they all follow the Deathmatch rule set of just aiming to destroying your opponents ships but in slightly different ways. AMG previously announced that they where looking at ways of changing the game and one of the ideas they floated was the introduction of objectives.
They didn’t really let much slip on this, only that they wanted ways to reward the players for being more engaging in a game and less rewarding to those that fortress or points tank. So let’s have a think on what objectives would bring to the game and theory craft some rules.
Objectives And Game Modes
Once you introduce objectives that award points into a game (not including Deathmatch), the amount of design space that becomes open to the developers dramatically increases. There is so much you can do with objectives that I bet that you, the reader could easily come up with 3+ different game modes by the end of this article.
Objectives can be used as scoring method on their own, but we can actually combine it with Deathmatch to introduce a third kind of mission type, Hybrid games. Hybrids would offer points for both halving/destroying ships and for holding control over an objective. It would take a bit of tweaking to get the points for objectives right, but players would need a good incentive to spare resources trying to control an objective while trying to earn points from their opponents ships.
So with three different kinds of win conditions we can achieve quite a broad scope of game modes or scenarios. We do need to be careful though as having too many game scenarios can leave players confused and we also need to keep the rules as uniform as possible, which is easier to do when we have a smaller scenario pool to draw from.
A good way to avoid this, would be to limit the overall amount of active game modes to six or less*, we could also make good use of a scenario brief to mention more specific rules; like how many points are earned per objective and if the objectives had any special rules and deployment/set up options.
*extra note, why did I suggest six or less game modes? The simple answer is that game scenarios can be selected with one roll of a six sided dice. There could actually be more than six total, as depending on the popularity of game modes, this core six could be swapped or interchanged with additional modes as needed.
How Would Points From Objectives Work?
In order to introduce points for objectives, it would be best to use a lower scaling points scoring system, so instead of 20 points earned for an objective, we just use 1 or 2 points earned instead and then depending on the game mode, these points would then be cashed in for something more similar to the current points system, for example 1 of these objective points would earn the player something like 20 or 25 points at the end of a match.
Having a lower scaling of points would also allow players to keep track of what they earned without having to resort to a calculator or app. Using something like a D20 dice, or a tally system would allow players to recognise the current game score relatively quickly without needing to waste precious game time in calculating the score.
As these are technically a different kind of points they would need to be rebranded, so something along the lines of “Objective Points,” or OP for short and then at the end of a match these could be converted into points more similar to what you would see at the end of a normal game for the purposes of calculating a players overall MOV e.g. 1 OP = 20 points (not a final figure, but just a suggestion), the conversion rate would be based on the type of scenario the players are playing.
So now we know what level of points we would be working with and that there are several game modes available to us, let’s try making a Standard Objective Rules set.
- Introduction of a new phase, the Objective Phase. This takes place after the End Phase and before the Planning Phase.
- Objectives are deployed on the board at initiative 0, unless dictated otherwise by the Scenario Brief.
- Objectives may not be placed within range 1 of any board edge, unless dictated otherwise by the Scenario Brief.
- Objectives may be placed within range 1 of an obstacle, but not within range 1 of other objectives, unless stated otherwise by the Scenario Brief.
- Objectives may be placed at range 0 of an obstacle, but all edges of the obstacle must be clearly visible. If an objective can not be placed in this way, then it must be placed elsewhere.
- Objectives have the following properties, unless stated otherwise in the Scenario Brief :
- can not be attacked or affected by abilities of players ships/mines/bombs/devices,
- do not obstruct attacks,
- can be overlapped by players ships
- no penalty to players ships that overlap or land on an objective,
- If a players ship(s) are at range 0-1 of an objective and none of their opponents ships are in range 0-1 of the objective, the objective is counted as being in “control,” of that player.
- During the Objective Phase if a player has control of an objective they are awarded OP (Objective Points), consult the Scenario Brief on OP scoring and conversion rate.
- If both players have ships in range 0-1 of an objective during the Objective Phase, then the player with the most ships in range of the objective gets “control,” over the point and is awarded the OP.
- Medium base ships are equal to 2 small base ships, for the purposes of control over an objective.
- Large base ships are equal to 3 small base ships for the purposes of control over an objective.
- An objective is considered as “contested,” if both players have an equal amount of ships near an objective. During the Objective Phase if an objective is labelled as contested then no OP are awarded.
Limitations/Future Proofing To Avoid Exploits And Needed Rewrites:
When developing a game or a new mode, the developers have this vision in their mind to try and make that mode a fair, engaging and most importantly a fun experience for players. Sadly players with a more competitive steak have a tendency to find flaws and exploits that the developers never thought of to essentially break the game mode, or tilt it heavily into their own favour. This in turn encourages other players or even the whole player base, to start thinking in this way until the point where an errata or rules rewrite is needed.
With a basic rules skeleton in place, we now have to set our minds towards potential exploits that could break these game modes. We will then have to add limitations to our rule set to prevent issues that may arise from the shifted focus of destroying ships to holding “control” over objectives.
The most likely outcome of objective based scenarios would be the emergence of “farming,” lists, so anything like a swarm which has a large amount of bodies that could park several ships on an objective to give the player a steady amount of points per turn, while still having ships to spare to send to the opponent. The other extreme to this would be fortressing lists that just sit on the objective and refuse to move via tactical bumping or abuse of mechanics to not move away from an objective, while being heavily tokened up.
Some rules that could be possibly introduced with ways to prevent these issues:
- enforce a maximum points limit earned per turn or per objective, for example a player may only earn OP from an objective they control once per turn regardless of ship count near the point.
- Stressed ships do not count towards ship count when determining control of an objective (prevents abuse of players spamming the full stop manoeuvrer and ships that can remove stress and do it again).
- Ships in range 0-1 of a objective can not modify attack or defence dice with the use of a focus or force token or even both (to highlight the fact a ship is more vulnerable when trying to interact or secure an objective).
- Ships in range 0-1 of an objective may only claim an objective if they have an unspent green token.
- Ships that are cloaked do not count towards the ship count when determining control of an objective.
- Ships in range 0-1 of an objective may not be co-ordinated, receive free actions or have tokens shared or removed by friendly ships.
- Objectives can be given a charge token, players can only claim OP from an objective during the objective phase if it has an active charge token. Once OP is claimed the charge token is spent and flipped to the inactive side. Charge tokens can only be recovered if there are no ships at range 0-1 of an objective during the Objective Phase (this stops players from consistently farming the same objective).
- Ships can not use abilities or upgrades that allow them to ignore the negative effects of landing or overlapping obstacles, if an objective is placed at range 0 of an obstacle. (prevents Hyenas/Vultures from using landing struts and Dash Rendar from ignoring obstacles).
We don’t need to use all of these and can try adding or removing them from the rules skeleton with a bit of play testing. Both the rules of maximum points and the use of charges sound like good ideas and can be enforced in the Scenario Brief.
The Biggest Exploit To Objective Based Scenarios?
There is one major problem with objective based scenarios that I haven’t mentioned and it’s a big one, what happens when you “table,” your opponent?
This is a pretty big question and completely changes the thought process behind objective based gameplay, as why bother with objective, if you can just destroy all of your opponents ships?
Otherwise known as “tabling”, this does happen in other table top games where yes, you do try and score a few points through objective, but you aim for destroying all of your opponents forces to force the game to end as a win for you. Alternatively the player could wipe out the majority of their opponents ships, leaving the odd 22 point ship left and then spend the rest of the game running out the clock by picking up the points from objective with barely anything to contest them.
AMG did touch on this lightly during their November live stream, where they mentioned it was possible for the loser who lost a match, to rank higher than others that won all of their matches. This makes me think that they have a different system in place for players being rewarded for actively trying to earn as much points as possible in a match and it will be interesting to see what they come up with.
For now we need to come up with our own prediction or answer. Possible answers would be either a fixed round limit, a kill switch mechanic or a re-spawn mechanic, lets take a closer look at either option (these could possibly be included among scenario briefs).
Fixed Round Limit
Nice and simple and would apply to only objective based scenarios, give a maximum amount of rounds and players will have to think carefully about where to prioritize their resources.
This would instantly end the game if the ratio of ships or points of ships between players was too big. For example one player still has 4 ships left and the other would have a solitary tie fighter. In a case like this the TIE Fighter player could elect to forfeit the match at the cost of awarding the winning player a set amount of extra OP. This option would only be allowed if the points threshold (of ships left on the board) between both players was considered to be unwinnable, for example if there is 50 points vs 160 points of ships left, the player with 50 points of ships left could elect to forfeit.
An example ruling:
If the points difference between players remaining ships is over 140 points, then the loosing player may elect to forfeit the game. The winning player is then awarded an additional set amount of OP.
This would be best used for games for objective only games, where players could get an abundance of objective points. Players finding themselves lacking in ships could elect to spend some of their OP to re-spawn a few of their destroyed ships, this OP cost could be in proportion to the value of the ship.
Paying a tax via a valuable resource, would also mean that players would have to be careful with how they use this mechanic and also would mean that ships that have the ability to revive themselves (An example would be Tel Trevura) would still be viable choices as they don’t waste the players precious OP to be re-spawned.
When coming up with a ruling for a re-spawn mechanic, we also need to keep in mind the abilities/charges of ships + upgrades to prevent any exploits from cropping up, like purposefully killing off a ship that has used up all of its bombs/mines to re-spawn it back on the board with those charges fully restored.
- Ships that have been destroyed/removed from the game can not recover recurring charges until they are re-spawned and are returned to the play area.
- During the Objective Phase, after OP has been awarded, players may elect to spend points from their OP pool to re-spawn a ship, this is done in player initiative order, but not in pilot initiative order.
- Once all ships that are to be re-spawned, have been selected and paid for by both players, the players must remove all damage cards from the elected ships and place the cards into their own discard pile and must flip all shield tokens to the active side.
- Any tokens like force and charge are kept in the same state as they where when the ship was removed from the board. e.g. a ship has spent 1 charge from a Ion torpedo card before it was removed from the game, when it is re-spawned it will still have 1 charge left.
- Ships and upgrades do not recover any spent charge when the ship is re-spawned, they must wait till the following End Phase to recover recurring charges, e.g. a ship that has spent both charges for proximity mines before being removed from the board, will re-spawn with the charges staying on the spent side.
- Players may pay the following OP tax for re-spawning their ships (points not final and open to change):
0-30 points ship = -2 OP,
31-60 points = -3 OP,
61-80 points = -4 OP,
81+ points = -5 OP
- A maximum of 2 ships can be re-spawned per Objective Phase.
Using the skeleton rules and possible limitations we have just concocted, lets have a look at the main meat of the article, the scenarios and applying the rules to them. As I mentioned already there is a lot we can do with objectives. So I came up with the following list of ideas and game names to make them more easily identifiable:
- Deathmatch (The default game mode!): Points awarded for halving and destroying opponents ships, standard rules, standard game time.
- Data Wars! (both sides are trying to intercept and transmit data from a nearby archive and find out they are not the only ones present. Steal and transmit data from all archive points): 3 fixed objectives, objective scoring only, fixed round limit.
- Scramble (both sides are scrambling to gather resources from an accident or shattered asteroid): 6 fixed objectives around the map, objective scoring only, Re-spawn rules, standard game time.
- Blockade (both sides need to clear out the others structure to be able to send out for help):
2 fixed objectives near deployment zones using structures (if structures not available, use large bases as temporary structure objectives, hybrid scenario, standard game time.
- Double cross (both sides are meeting to exchange goods, except both have planned to double cross the other and take the others cargo) 2 small base mobile objectives, objective scoring only, Re-spawn rules.
- Diplomat (An important diplomat is being escorted, when out of nowhere an ambush!):
1 medium base mobile objective with 1 player being designated as the defender and the other as an attacker, Hybrid scenario, fixed turn limit.
- The Spice! (Both sides have intercepted a small transport ship carrying spice, take as much as you can before it leaves the area):
1 Large base moving object controlled by alternating players determined by initiative or another factor, Hybrid scenario, standard game time.
Let’s take a close look at some of these and come up with what a scenario brief would look like for them:
Three objectives means there’s an odd spread of objectives on the map with one in the centre and then one nearer to each deployment zone. It would be best for the scenario brief to dictate that the centre objective is placed in the centre of the board before obstacles are placed down.
As for scoring we want to encourage players to take to the centre of the board, so we will award points that encourages moving out of your corner, so lets see what we can come up with:
Data Wars! Scenario Brief:
- Objective scoring system.
- Fixed round limit: 12 rounds.
- Set up, before rolling for initiative place one objective roughly in the centre of the board (rough estimate is a range 3 + 4 speed manoeuvre) and place 2 charge tokens near it.
- Roll for initiative and place obstacles as per current official rules dictate, obstacles can not be placed within range 0-1 of the centre objective.
- Once obstacles are placed, both players place one objective near their board edge in initiative order and must place 1 charge token next to them. Objectives must be placed between range 2-3 of their own board edge and no closer than range 1 of other board edges.
- Continue rest of setup as per current official rules dictate.
- Objectives follow standard Objective rules.
- Once OP are claimed from an objective, flip the charge token next to that objective to it’s spent side, OP can not be claimed from this objective until the charge token is flipped back to the active side.
- Charge tokens on objectives can only be recovered when there are no ships within range 0-1 during the Objective Phase.
- Conversion rate 1 OP = 15 points (would need further testing to give an accurate number).
Now lets take a look at much more different scenario: The Spice!
As our objective uses a Large base that moves around we want to change the rules slightly for objectives, maybe looking at the current rules for devices and making it so that it can not overlap or be overlapped by the players ships and allow it to be moved with any basic 1 or 2 speed manouver. Most importantly it shouldn’t be effected by attacks, effects or obstacles, and it’s going to be player controlled, so it would actually work well under ROAD rules.
The Spice! Scenario Brief:
- Hybrid scoring system.
- Standard time limit: 75 minutes.
- Set up the board in accordance to the current official rules.
- Once all ships have been placed, players will assign the eye and blank results to the left and right board edges. Roll 1 attack dice, on a hit or crit result the transport objective is placed roughly in the centre of the board, on an eye or blank result it will be placed at range 1 of that results designated board edge, at roughly halfway between both players.
- The transport objective follows all standard Objective Rules except for overlapping ships or being overlapped by ships.
- The transport objective is labelled as a large base mobile objective, that must move forward using any 2 speed maneuver. Place a pilot card on the large base to identify the front and back of the ship.
- Once all dials are set and initiative is determined, the player who has initiative, moves the transport using any standard 2 speed template during the Activation Phase at initiative 0, before any other initiative 0 ships/devices/remotes are moved (if ROAD rules are not being used, roll for control of the transport objective after dials have been set for every round) .
- Should the manoeuvre result in any part of the transport objective being out of the play area, the player who performed the maneuver suffers a penalty of minus 3 OP.
The opposing player must immediately perform another 2 speed maneuver to get the transport objective fully back on to the board, if that player fails to achieve this, they will also suffer a minus 3 OP penalty.
- If both players have failed to keep the transport objective fully on the board, remove the transport objective from its current position and re-deploy it as per the setup rules for this scenario brief.
- Both players can score 1 OP for having a ship within range 0-1 of the transport objective and gain an additional 2 OP for having control over it, players can only score a maximum of 3 OP per turn.
- Conversion rate 1 OP = 30 or 40 points (testing required to get exact figure).
So there we have it, a possible idea on how objectives can be integrated into the game. It will be interesting to see how AMG will bring objectives into the game and how similar the rules may be to what I have theorized today. It was also be interesting to see if structures will be brought in at the same time as they may go hand in hand with objective based game play.
With the possibilities of objectives, players will have a lot of new ways to play and approach the game and for tournaments that use a different scenario each round, players will have to put in a lot more thought on what sort of squad would be able to effectively carry out the majority of these modes.
As an added bonus, I’ll be making a more official looking rules reference supplement and will share it on here and other social sources if players wish to give these a go.
Thanks for reading and let us know your thoughts on objectives, love them? Hate them? We want to hear what you think.