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Meta-Analysis: Regionals Results and Wave 4

meta regionals analysis

What can the 2014 Regionals results tell us about the upcoming Wave 4 meta? Spoiler Alert: I'm not writing off TIE Swarm just yet...
I meant to post this all week, but didn’t make time to type it up. I’ve been a pretty religious follower of the Regionals results thread on the FFB forums that leverages the excellent work from MajorJuggler. I kept noticing that some flavor of TIE Swarm seemed to be winning all the fricking time, especially in larger events. After TIE Swarm won again last weekend at the Roseville, MN Regional at the FFG Game Center, I decided to go through the Top 8 lists and look at the distribution of general archetypes. Note that I have not included any results for this weekend’s Regionals (21-22 June) as they generally take time to come in. I may update this if things look different.

I know this analysis won’t do much good starting next week (28-29 June) when Wave 4 is presumably released and the TIE Phantom begins to dominate our lives (I’m only being slightly sarcastic). However, I still think this is a good opportunity to look at the current state of the game and see if there are lessons that can be learned for the post-Wave 4 meta and onward.

I purposefully used broad definitions for the archetypes of the lists that made Top 8 to make this a little easier for myself, but I still think it's helpful. Here is what I used:
  • Swarm: any imperial list with 6 or more small ships
  • Mini-Swarm: Imperial list with a large ship and a group of TIEs
  • #I: Imperial lists where # is anything from 3-5. You could argue that some of these might be mini-swarms, but whatever. You're not paying me to do this, so I get to decide. 3I also includes 3 Bounty Hunters. Didn't want to separate that out. Again, just making things easier for myself.
  • #R: Rebel lists where # is anything from 2-5 and doesn't include a YT for #>2. 4R is the largest of this subgroup, and includes many of the popular lists that include Biggs. 5R includes the famous Blakely Swarm and 2A3B like lists. And, amazingly, there are even a couple of 2 ship lists with Han and Wedge. Running that list would take some serious cajones.
  • YT+2: Lists with a YT, often Chewie, and two small ships, often B-Wings.
  • 2YT: Dual Falcons. Boom.
If you want to see the breakouts for yourself, here's a link to my Google Docs Spreadsheet.

Here are the results for all of the Regionals that have happened before June 21 (29 total tournaments). Note that not every Regionals report is complete in MajorJuggler’s database, so there aren’t 29x8 lists represented below.

Archetype // #Top 8s // #Wins // Win%:

Swarm // 48 // 15 // 51.27%
Mini-Swarm // 5 // 0 // 0%
2R // 3 // 0 // 0%
3R // 6 // 2 // 6.90%
4R // 64 // 6 // 20.69%
5R // 7 // 0 // 0%
YT+2 // 21 // 2 // 6.90%
2YT // 10 // 1 // 3.45%
3I // 26 // 1 // 3.45%
4I // 16 // 2 // 6.90%
5I // 2 // 0 // 0%

So what do we learn? 4R (64 appearances) and Swarm (48) dominate the Top 8 lists, which is probably not a surprise (that’s what I expected heading into Monroeville). The 3I archetype (26) comes in at third, but just a quick reminder that this archetype for this analysis includes both 3 Bounty Hunters and 3 Squints and some things in between. The surprising thing is how Swarm comes to dominate the Regionals wins, winning 51% of the events! Even though 4R dominates the Top 8 lists, it only ends up winning 21% of the tournaments. However, some of the Regionals tournaments have less than 20 people, and a Top 8 here can be really skewed. What happens if we only consider events with more than 30 players?

Results with Regionals with 30 or more players (16 total Regional tournaments):

Archetype // #Top 8s // #Wins // Win%:

Swarm // 28 // 10 // 62.50%
Mini-Swarm // 2 // 0 // 0%
2R // 2 // 0 // 0%
3R // 5 // 1 // 6.25%
4R // 35 // 3 // 18.75%
5R // 5 // 0 // 0%
YT+2 // 9 // 0 // 0%
2YT // 7 // 0 // 0%
3I // 16 // 1 // 6.25%
4I // 9 // 1 // 6.25%
5I // 1 // 0 // 0%

The results are even more pronounced. Swarm wins 62.5% of the large Regionals, and 4R clocks in at 19%, despite having 7 more Top 8 appearances than Swarms. Everything else is basically just some singleton results.

What does all this mean? If you were playing in a pre Wave 4 tournament tomorrow and wanted to make the final cut, you’d probably be off to a decent start by leaving most of your green dice at home and running a 4 ship Rebel build. Just don’t do something ridiculous and put a HWK in it. But if you want to make Top 8 and win? You should start looking at all of those TIEs in your box.

But what can we learn to take forward into Wave 4? I think it comes down to tournament structure and the timed rounds. Both 4 Rebels and Swarms are great archetypes for timed matches under the new point structure (with a full win awarded if you’ve destroyed 12 or more points than your opponent). They generally hit hard (high number of attack dice and able to concentrate fire) and when they lose a ship, it isn’t a huge loss of points (generally less than 25). Any archetype with less than 3 ships is going to lose, on average, 33 points, and you’re going to lose 1, if not 2 ships in most matchups. That’s a 12 point difference right there. [And yeah, I know these matches normally don’t end with one ship lost each. This is just for illustration.]

So bottom line? Having lots of ships helps you get to the Top 8. But what about winning it all? Now you’re in the untimed rounds. Having even more ships means that you have lots of targets that your opponent has to get rid of, and you have all the time you need to keep shooting until there’s nothing left to shoot at. You get to keep your guns on the table longer, and you roll your red dice (with their 4/8 good natural results) against their green dice (with their 3/8 good natural results) more often. Over time - which you have a lot of in the elimination rounds - the expected results from all of your red die start to overpower the expected results from all of their green die.

Is this overly simplistic? Definitely. Do strategy, tactics, and maneuvers matter more in these matchups? Almost certainly. But picking the right archetype is like tipping the scale slightly in your favor before the match even starts. [WARNING: Baseball analogy ahead!!] It’s like going 12 games over .500 in April in MLB. All you have to do for the rest of the season is play .500 ball and you end up with 94 wins and a great shot at winning the division and making the playoffs. A good start can lead to good results, even if you’re mediocre afterwards.

In a game where dice rolls are the main way to inflict damage on your opponent, finding every non-probabilistic way to gain an edge is really important. This is why asteroids are opening ship placement are important (read Pauls’ FFG articles). This is why maneuvering and flying in formation are important. This is why Focus + Target Lock is important. Getting those small advantages in areas you can control starts to add up and become the signal to the noise of your individual dice rolls. Whenever possible, take the dice out of the matchup by increasing your signal to noise ratio and increase your chances of winning.

What does this mean for the post-Wave 4 Meta?

I was convinced that Wave 4 was going to be dominated by 3 ship high PS builds with slippery TIE Phantoms or E-Wings. Then I played an Echo-Defender-Backstabber list against Noah’s High PS TIE Swarm. As usual, it was super hard to get hits through. Even with 4 (and sometimes 5) red dice, you’re not one-shotting a TIE Fighter every turn without some good luck on your side and bad luck on theirs. In a timed match, I would have gotten a full loss. In an elimination match, I also would’ve lost.

Was it because I’m still not good with Echo? Probably.

Was it because 6 ships is a lot of ships to kill in 60 minutes? Probably.

Even with these new slippery ships, I’m willing to bet that it will still be really hard to kill 6 TIEs or 4-5 Rebel ships, especially in a timed match. Am I saying that nothing will change? No way. I’m totally expecting more high PS pilots and more variety in the lists. Am I saying that some things will stay the same? Yeah, I think they will.

Don’t fall victim to the Cult of the New. The Old was good for a reason.

What could end up changing this?
  • Over time, some people will get really good with Echo and learn to balance aggression (getting within Range 1) while still staying out of arc. They’ll also find the right balance of support ships that can deny actions, give out stress, and/or hit hard. These people will do really well.
  • Predator. If the meta swing isn’t harsh, and the PS-1 and -2 ships, such as Academy Pilots, Prototypes, Rookies, Blues (especially Blues), stick around, throwing Predator on a couple of ships in a list will almost single-handedly limit the effectiveness of the PS-1 and -2 lists. It’s practically Focus+Target Lock in one.
  • Other stuff that I’m not thinking of because it’s late.
One final point about the future of the post-Wave 4 meta that I also want to raise after playtesting against Echo: Fire Control System is going to start to see even more use than it already is. It’s going to be more important than ever to ensure your red dice become hits, and an awesome way to do that is to get free TLs through your FCS and take the Focus action. And don’t forget Heavy Laser Cannon. That will be 7 points well spent.

Let me know what I missed.

Fly Casual,
Neil Jenkins (Lunchbox on Vassal)
  • drkjedi35 likes this


9 Comments

Photo
Vagabond Elf
Jun 24 2014 01:49 PM

Well, timed matches should be 75 minutes, not 60, which does make a difference - though possibly not a big one.  I think Predator is likely to push a shift in the meta to the PS3/4 pilots.  And... nope, can't think of anything else.

 

A very interesting read, sir!

    • Sithborg likes this

Thanks for the stats, I was almost sure that we had seen the high tide mark of the swarm. Unfortuantley, I guess not.

 

Good point on the match time. I playing ina store championships that I played tested for 60min rounds only to find out right before we started that the players decided to make it 75min. It does not sound like much, but 15min was a game changer for my build and strategy.

 

Yes, it am already seeing more FCS. Its going to be a 2pt must have for Corran Horn.

75 minutes is the standard for tournaments.

 

From the X-Wing Tournament Rules: Dogfight tournaments for the X-Wing miniatures game are held in a series of 75 minute tournament rounds. Tournament organizers may adjust this number up or down by up to fifteen minutes as they see fit, to a minimum of 60 and a maximum of 90. If they do, they must inform all players in advance of the tournament.

It was originally scheduled for 60min rounds, they literally took an informal vote 5 minutes before the first round and changed it back to 75min rounds. I was equally annoyed because it extended along day by a few more hours. Sorry... off topic. 

With reports coming in of Regionals that saw the use of Wave 4, anyone plans to update the stats?

It's really not surprising, considering the change of the tournament rules made swarms more viable and the anti-swarm counters haven't been legal yet. It will be interesting to see how Blount, Predator, and Phantom builds affect things. In fact, the fear of the Phantom is likely going to see an increase of double Falcons.

    • Darth Malus likes this

I realise that this is an older article, but I tihnk Sithborg's comments have been largely borne out by the results:

 

Millennium Falcon builds are DOMINATING the Wave 4 Regionals.

 

If we look at the results for the regionals (and discount the Turku Finland results due to small size), we end up with 4 Phantoms in the Top 8 (3 events).  That means that 1 in 6 lists were running Phantoms (none of the lists were 2 TIE/Pha lists).  On the other hand, 9 lists, or 3 in 8, had at least 1 Falcon. 

 

That tells us really quickly that whatever list you bring, you'd better be able to beat the Falcon - something that swarms have traditionally been able to do.

Outmaneuver is a beautiful thing...

Wave 5 and Rebel Aces will bring more changes, i can easily see Double Falcons being replaced by Falcon paired with Outrider.

 

then there is the impending Imperial huge ship. 


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