I’ll start off with a definition – Waste Points Ratio – WPR – is the percentage of the total points of an fleet list / army list that isn’t used. So if I for instance have a 1000 points fleet and I have 20 unused points, my WPR is 2 %.
Why is WPR interesting?
A wargame system is using points value to make it possible for players to make armies or fleets that are comparable in effectiveness. If I have a 1000 points fleet and you have a 1000 points fleet, we can safely assume that they are about equal in strength. This is important because in that way, the outcome of a game we are playing with said 1000 points fleets based on skill and luck, rather than one side having an initial advantage.
WPR is then interesting, because this shows how much weaker your fleet is than your allowance and – theoretically speaking – your opponents fleet. If you have a huge WPR and your opponent doesn’t, you are at a disadvantage before the game has even begun.
How big is a typical WPR then?
I have played a lot of Warhammer (and still play some 9th age – the spiritual successor to warhammer 8th edition) and most games I played in in 8th edition warhammer was around 2500 points. In these I at most had 4 points wasted, since 5 points could usually either be converted into some sort of upgrade or minor magic item – or maybe even another soldier in a unit. 4 points out of 2500 gives a WPR of around 0,2 %.
In Dropfleet, I have mostly played 999 points fleets. In some cases, I have had as much as 10 or 15 points left and, playing PHR, I could theoretically be left with as much as 29 points I couldn’t spend since the cheapest addition (baring admiral which is normally maxed out) is an Echo Corvette at 30 points. 29 points out of 999 points means a WPR of 2,9 %.That seems quite a lot bigger than in a game of Warhammer.
Is that a problem?
That is actually what I am pondering. It influences me greatly in my fleet-building. If I end up with having more than 15 points left, I often replace a cruiser or two with a more expensive cruiser – like an Ajax to an Ikarus even though tactically speaking, the Ajax might be the better choice in this fleet. But it feels wrong for me to have such a high WPR, so I try to reduce it.
On the other hand, it is silly. If I find, that an Ajax is a better choice than an Ikarus, why do the upgrade? Why not just accept the increase in WPR?
A 2,9 % disadvantage might seem like a lot on paper, but the more I think about it, the more it seems clear to me, that it is irrelevant compared to fielding the right ships or having a coherent strategy. “Upgrading” a ship by replacing one type of cruiser with a more expensive one is not really an upgrade, if the two cruisers have different qualities and fulfill different roles.
That being said, I do feel like I miss something to spend the last 10-20 points on. I don’t feel like every ship should have upgrade options worth 5-15 points (that would complicate the game more than it already is), but I do think it could be cool, if there were some fleet-wide minor upgrade you could take for those last points. Maybe the highest WPR would break ties when rolling for initiative in the ground combat, or break ties at the end of the match if VP was equal or some other minor thing. Nothing you would want to specifically dedicate points to, but something that would make you think twice before rearranging your entire fleet to make use of those last 10 points.
I don’t think the comparable higher WPR of dropfleet is a problem. But I do think you have to be aware of it not tricking you into fielding a suboptimum fleet to reduce it – because it is not really that important.