Monday, August 6, 2018

How impactful are critical hits in 2.0?

Besides the new rules, pilots, and upgrade cards, 2.0 brings a new critical hit deck. With the new damage deck, you may have questions like:
  • Should I include pilots or upgrades which add crits or expose/repair damage cards in my list?
  • Suppose I have a very important attacking chance; do I spend focus to avoid a crit or save it for my attack?
Sand Brawler Squadron wrote a good article on the 2.0 critical deck. While it points out some of the major changes and the most impactful cards, I haven't found any articles which directly address those questions. As such, I'm writing this article to give you a sense for how impactful the 2.0 critical hit deck is by quantifying the effects of the 2.0 damage deck and comparing it to the 1.0 The Force Awakens (TFA) damage deck.

Obviously, critical hit cards affect different ships differently. To capture how different ships receive different impacts from critical hit cards, I separately consider their effects on two different classes of ships:
  • "Durable" ships which can live for several turns after taking hull damage (through health, defenses, or arc-dodging), and usually have higher initiative. Aces and large ships are examples of durable ships.
  • "Fragile" ships which probably have one more attack and maneuver left by the time they start taking hull damage, and usually have low initiative. TIE Fighters and B-Wings are examples of fragile ships.
A ship's category can change as they take damage and as enemy ships are destroyed. For example, a healthy generic X-Wing in a 1v1/2v1 endgame might be considered a survivable ship since your opponent's damage output is reduced.

Of course, some types of ships are uniquely affected by some critical hit cards. I'll leave that for you to consider.

My general findings are:
  1. Critical hits are really bad for durable ships. Half of the critical hits can significantly limit a durable ship.
  2. For fragile ships, a critical hit costs one action on average with some upside.
  3. Repairing critical hits isn't too useful unless it happens between receiving the critical hit and your next maneuver. Otherwise, less than 1 in 5 damage cards have a high impact on durable ships and can be repaired. For another 1 in 3 cards, repairing saves you an action.
  4. Compared to the 1.0 TFA deck, the 2.0 damage deck is worse for durable ships and better for fragile ships.
  5. Compared to the 1.0 TFA deck, the 2.0 damage deck affects more maneuvers but causes fewer lost shots.
Besides these differences in the damage decks, there are other differences that make critcal hits in 2.0 stronger or weaker than in 1.0. Some of these include:
  • STRONGER: there are fewer "free" actions in 2.0, so the value of a lost action is higher.
  • STRONGER: maneuvering is more important in 2.0 since there are no 360-degree turrets.
  • WEAKER: each game turn is slightly less important due to lower offense across the board.

For the tables and methodology, see below!

Critical hit effects fall into one of four categories:
  • Lost actions. Usually this is an action spent on repairing a card.
  • Maneuvers affected. I assume straights, banks, turns, and other maneuvers are each 1/4 of your maneuvers, greens are 1/3, whites are 1/2, and reds are 1/6 of your maneuvers.
  • Damage taken. "Direct Hit!" is the clearest example.
  • Lost attacks. 1.0 Blinded Pilot is the clearest example, but I'll also count Weapons Failure as a partial lost attack.
This makes quantifying critical hit cards possible. Assumptions will still be required, but I'll note them and hopefully they'll get us in the right ballpark. Keep in mind the relative values of these effects are drastically different. For example, a lost action is usually much less impactful than an extra damage or a lost attack!

Besides quantifying the critical hit effects, I also assign an impact value to each critical hit card:
  • Low: less than the impact of losing an action, and often doesn't affect the game at all
  • Medium: roughly the impact of losing an action
  • RNG: sometimes costs one action, but sometimes it costs many actions
  • High: greatly reduces the effectiveness of the ship; creates large swing in the game state
This is somewhat arbitrary, but again, the goal is to be in the right ballpark for answering those questions.

Unfortunately, the full tables with the descriptions of the critical hit effects and the notes are too wide for this blog! You can find them on here, and I suggest looking at the full-size tables since they're probably easier to read. I've included the abbreviated tables below. 

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