Yesterday at FFG central players battled in epic Star Wars fashion while playing…Armada. After grabbing your badge and taking a peak at the prize booth, Destiny players made their way to the nearby Raddison to participate in the Multiplayer Free For All.
For those new to multiplayer, the rules are fairly simple. The players who don’t go first get only a single shield to put on a character. Play goes clockwise. And tie breakers are health remaining and then cards remaining in hand and in deck. Rounds lasted an hour each, with each round using a randomizer to create the pairings. 13 tables had 4 players each, and 3 tables had 3 players – for a total of 61 players.
This was my first experience with multiplayer and I had no idea what to expect with the game play. It was also announced on-site that SoR would be legal to use…and the only SoR I had brought was a for-fun Leia/Ackbar deck. Fortunately, some nice players loaned me some Rebel Commandos and I was able to run 3x Rebel Commando It’s a Trap!. This turned out to be a great deck for the event as it was unthreatening in the early game yet had a whopping 30 health to get it through the late game.
The game play for multiplayer can only be explained as a game of politics and tact. No one wanted to deal the first blow and become the “bad guy”, but once a little damage had been dealt it was like chum for sharks – that character was now the target for everyone else on the table. Being unassuming was key – in 4 games my Rebel Commandos never once took the first hit. Rey, Qui Gon, Vader, Bala…these were the characters that took the hate and were crushed by the crowd.
Things turned interesting once that first character was down. In my games, it was most often the case that players tried to evenly distribute their attentions on every other player. In tough calls, I even used a dice to decide who I targeted, just so people knew there was no hard feelings (no telling if this actually worked). There was some bargaining happening in the mid game, but it was really the most threatening player who got the attention, no matter what deal-making was going on at the table. If you had one more character than everyone else, the table equalized it and cut one down – having more upgrades made you equally a juicy target.
Most of the decks on hand were slightly modified versions of what we see in the meta. Han Rey, Jango Bala Trooper, Qui Gon Rey, Vader Raider, the usual. These decks all have easy first targets, and the table just took turns taking out each player’s. I was able to make it to semi finals, and I chalk that up to triple Rebel Commando having no easy target. In 4 games I played a Holdout Blaster as my first action, the trooper with the HOB was always my very last one to die. That trooper also got Wingman, and sometimes even a DH-17 – even with all those upgrades she was still the last target of the table.
Throughout the game I would distribute my upgrades to all Rebel Commandos, making it hard for the table to see any single Commando as a real threat. By round 2 or 3 this led to me having 5-7 dice on the table, with most being red dice with at least a 2 damage side. I was able to get off 3 Wingman + Hit and Run + It’s a Trap combos, resulting in 12, 13 and 14 damage. In each case I took down one full health character, and then spread the damage out to a couple other characters to provide soft targets for the rest of the table to focus on.
Beyond those big combos, my play was fairly standard red hero. Heal up, remove dice, do some damage, claim before the other players can so I can do more of the same next round. The only trick I should add is that I brought Cargohold and got to use it in half of my games – moving upgrades to soon-to-die characters helped keep the other players from targeting me for a bit…and moving my uprades to healthier characters made it a really solid battlefield for multiplayer.
My multiplayer bargaining was not very aggressive, if I had a lot of damage showing I’d negotiate with a player for not sending it their way if they did the same for me that round, but that was about it. Most of my opponents had about the same level of interest in bargaining, save for one. His bargaining was so aggressive, persistent and, most importantly, condescending that it worked against him in our semi finals match. To me, Destiny is just a game – and like any game the point is to have fun. The aggressive bargainer changed my win condition – he made it so that it was more fun to ensure he wouldn’t make it to the final round than it was to get myself into the final round. He was playing the long game and hoping to win by health tie breaker. By the time he finally peaked my annoy-o-meter he had out two Force Heals, a Lone Operative and a Second Chance and had no damage on the table. That changed when I sent a 14 damage combo his way, knocking out Qui Gon. I was able to scrape off a couple Second Chances and get Han down to just a few life by the time end of round was called. Win condition satisfied.
By the time my semi finals match wrapped up we had been playing Destiny for nearly seven hours. While I would have loved to stick around to watch the finals hunger and exhaustion pulled me away. A quick glance at the table showed at least 3 Reys made it through – the lady is hanging strong in single and multiplayer meta!
So this gets me to the end of the article but leaves a question hanging – was multiplayer free for all fun? I enjoyed myself, kind of, right up until the semi finals. It was awkward, slow paced, and experimental feeling for those first rounds. But by the semi finals as people settled into the mechanics it started to feel like a terrible game of Monopoly. I don’t think it is a flawed game type – but I’ll leave off by declaring I’ll never run an event with multiplayer free for all that has prize support…keep this one casual!