As you may remember, pass tokens were revealed in August with only a few hints of details by the developers. There was some concern that lists with more ships would dry out; others were excited by the possibilities.
Now that they've been out for a while, I'm curious to know what people's experiences have been. In the VWC, it seems that some lists with 5+ ships are doing quite well competitively, not dissuaded by the pass tokens too much. 1 or 2 ships isn't too common to see, probably because they don't get much use out of pass tokens if first player. But I'm curious to know what people have noticed personally. In my experience, they do make a difference in the game, but they're much less annoying than the guaranteed-every-turn pass from Strategic Adviser. And the details rules prevent a guaranteed last/first on a specific turn like we used to see with Pryce (and sometimes Bail). However, lists with more ships and first player should theoretically be able to last/first on a later turn after all the pass tokens are used up (This part is me theorizing, not something I've actually seen yet).
Honestly, I really like the system. It's a pretty complex system but I think it's much better than what we used to have.
@Truthiness I agree that you can make good lists without flotillas, but I feel you need a special kind of ship in its place--one that's comfortable activating first at the beginning of turn 2. Like a CR90A or Demolisher.
@Triangularer The SSD definitely takes skill and thought to fly. I played it in the VWC and did not do well. However, I felt that had more to do with my lack of experience than it being a really bad ship. (I never bought one, was not one of those who played it when it was popular, and didn't practice much before the tournament.) After each game I lost I realized ways that I could have deployed and flown better.
Starhawks are obviously still really powerful against SSDs, but Starhawk's salvos are also worse against MSU with the evade change IMO. There's an SSD list flown by Paul in the VWC that has done okay overall until it faced a Starhawk. That being said, I don't think Starhawks are the end-all-be-all for the meta.
Due to pandemic I only played one game with pass tokens (as second player with 5 activations against three). Pass tokens don‘t have much of an impact it seems to me. It‘s good that you can deny you opponent a last-first one time.
Because I did complain quite a bit about pass tokens last summer: At this point we didn‘t know, that Bail, Strategic Adviser, and Pryce would be banned. It seemed like we would get even more messing around with the activation system and I hated that. The moment I noticed that the awful three wouldn‘t be part of the card pack, I never complained again.
I still have one complaint: The new rules made the SSD worse and that ship has had enough problems before.
I think the pass token mechanic is ok. I have not had a single game where the pass tokens really mattered at all. And most of the time someone ends ups with 1 maybe 2 to start the game. I think the SSD will suffer without it's built in pass token. I do like that SA is gone. The SA vs SA "I pass" "well I pass also" senario was frustrating to say the least.
It's working out well IMO. The worrying was, as always, a bit of an overreaction to only part of the puzzle. Yes, pass token in theory might have hurt small ships on their own, but the Evade change has been a seismic shift in the favor of . Small combat ships feel just wonderful on the table now. Above all, I think it has mainly marginalized flotillas. When they're not giving activation padding, do you really want to point 18+ points into a ship with no guns (or next to no guns for Imps)? And you know what? That's ok. They're still great for pushing around squads, but I like that I can now cut them out without an activation problem. That has helped the stock if mediums and smalls in my fleets. So long as I get to 4 activations, I'm in a really comfortable place.