So in the last part I discussed mission objectives and went through Objectives, Intel and Possible objectives. This time I intend to discuss the “history”, “current state” and “the future” of Focal points, Encroachment, Quarters, and Critical location.
This is now one of the mainstay of the DZC missions. You hold it at the end of the game. It stated out secondary to Objectives and was developed to be in almost each Invasion mission as well a perfect type of mission part to include in combined mission objectives. In some cases the other mission parts can feel like it ends to soon and then it could be nice to have a focal point at the end of the game to fight over.
Pretty soon a new type of version came out. Surging strike (Focal points on your opponent’s side is worth an extra VP for you) is a mission sometimes used to spice things up. We had our “Planetfall” mission where focal points are giving points in turn 3 and 6. The focal points changed a lot when they just stopped being in a building. Now they are currently always in the open unless in a bunker. It is a rather strange development for the game as objectives can be destroyed. Focal points in Recon+ can be destroyed but normal focal points can not.
It also became a effective second objective combined missions with Objectives. to the point it kind of took over. Another development because people complain on people driving on and destroyed buildings was focal points in indestructible bunkers. Now that is a great mission to have in a tournament as drive on demo armies are rather weak in this mission and more mobile armies tend to win it more. But it also meant more focal points in tournaments. And to be fair my complaint on 40k was that it was about holding points on the table in the last turn. So it felt like the game was developing towards 40k with indestructible Focal points.
Since then we have gotten the Critical location as a way to force people to get points more during the game instead of just at the end. Hawk have also understood the importance of this not least shown in the new Dropfleet Commander where the “Focal points” are held in turn 4 and 6.
For the future I think Focal points will not get to generate VP in turn 3 or 4 as well as turn 6. Instead that role will be Critical locations. If they do score another turn than the last as well then they could become movable focal points where a focal point move towards the player that doesn’t hold the focal point in turn 3. I have seen examples of this from J.D and our own Jens’ mission of Push the Line and Elusive targets.
I also think that Focal points could be improved by being “damaged” that is that a Focal point is only worth 1 VP for the main holder and 1VP for the contester if the building it was located in was destroyed. That perhaps can make people be prepared to place focal points inside buildings again – a development I would like to see again.
This was a mission in the first Invasion. Since then…nothing. And I think it is a basic mission and it certainly is a “last turn and grab” type of mission. So I don’t think it is strange that is was ignored like that. Also, as we have used it in tournaments with a combination of KP difference with boosts from the mission I think it is a bit to Killy and people just kept the infantry back until turn 5. I think it could be changed a bit. Giving points to the players with the amount of ground units inside the enemy table half in turn 3 and 6 could work. Say 3 VP to the winner and if the looser in each turn have 1-299VP less in the enemy half of the table they get 2VP. And 300-599 KP in difference only 1VP and 600+ 0. Then do that in turn 6 again. Then it will still be very Killy but you need to balance aggressiveness and movement and it can very well work as a mission. You could also count units. Then small things for the resistance would be nice and gunships toned down a bit.
For the future I do not think it will be very sensible mission unless official changes happens. But making it scoring in turn 3 and 6 would help and it could also be used as a mixed mission.
So Ground Control was another idea that took hold to compensate for slow drive on missions. It is a good way to compensate for drive on armies as they are not flexible enough to pick a quarter in the end phase. Where as Dropships (that can score in this mission) are very powerful as contesting unit. But it is a mission that goes pretty fast as people just held back in reserve until turn 4. It can be worth thinking about in a tournament where you think that people can not go over time. Like second last round where you want the last mission to absolutely start on time.
A natural development of this mission comes in the form of Dominion where you also hold in turn 3. This means you get more action and people can not wait to commit several turns. But it means people will count and count and count. And that takes time.
Dominion have basically taken over from Ground Control which makes sense (it was called Swedish Ground Control before until Hawk employee won the Swedish champ) (also note, OB might want to take credit – but who do you want to trust – me who blogs alone or a team of 6 or 7 people that still can’t get out as many blog posts like me?) (Just ignore quality when you consider this – quantity is better of course!).
For the future I think it could be logical to go with amount of units instead of KP when calculating who has a quarter. It is a bit to much calculating at the end of the game and also opens up for a draw in another way. You could go with 150+ points units are considered 2 units as well so you get a 2 level system. Easy to count and easy to see who is in the lead. I don’t expect this mission to be removed from the tournament scene but it is another version of Focal points.
The more I think of it the more I think DZC could use “number of units” instead of KP value for holding and contesting. Hawk have gone great lenghts to make sure no army can directly be effectively spammed with small units to make sure the cost of the armies are about the same. Sure you have the small Mad Max scouts in the resistance but we don’t see them that much either way. So it could work.
To compensate for the last turn grabbing of Focal points Hawk needed to do something new or change Focal points a bit. Or add a new type of Focal point. Which they did – Critical location.
Now it is a good idea. 3″, only one point can be awarded and it starts with turn 2. It really does exactly what Hawk wanted it to do. Forcing aggressiveness and action on the players so they can not hold back. Players also need to reach them pretty fast. They are very Killy but that is just fine. But where they really shine is in combination with Objectives. You need to fight hard over a critical location and if you also need to handle the objectives. It makes sure you need to understand positioning and strategy and where to commit.
Another wonderful part is the possibility to have special advantages to the player holding the Critical locations. In Command and Control the Commanders need to hold the Critical locations and the infantry get +1 to the die roll to search. A great mission and port of one of my better game-memory from latest Invasion I attended. I think Hawk could build on to this. Holding a critical location in the center gives you an extra command card, a pass in activation, re-roll a die when rolling for Intel or drawing double cards in Swedish Search or +1 to hit for infantry inside a building or repair a damaged building 2 points and so one. As long as it is not game breaking I think it can work fine.
A picture from one of my and Stefan’s game of Command and control.
The downside of Critical locations is that they are rather weak of a mission on their own. For a skirmish max should be two of them. Max 4 in Clash and 5 in Battle but some missions have 5 in a Clash which is completely to much. As they are almost always “Killy” missions if you have to many of them there becomes to much of points to play about. There will almost be to obvious who will win soon and they are to connected to killing the enemy units to win. It kind of makes them boring on their own. They are at their best in combination as a addition to another main mission. A good example is Defence line which I generally like but it becomes a bit to many VP to game about. Having Critical locations in bunkers that only infantry can tank points from is a great idea, though.
I think Hawk will absolutely add cool stuff to the Critical locations. They have a lot of potential when used in combination with other types of missions. Also they could be in missions where they are mobile pending on who holds them.
So this was my summary. A bit boring to read perhaps but I think there are many combinations and cool, large pool of ideas that could be implemented into new fresh versions of the current missions to keep the game fresh.
How would you like to see mission objectives develop?