Dare to go Squadron-less?

Video if you prefer not to read the article.

 

It can be very tricky to go without squadrons.  Essentially, any list that doesn’t include any squadrons is taking a huge gamble, and it usually isn’t worth the risk.

Taking even two TIE Fighters or Z-95s is a minimal investment of points, and can make a huge difference when you are facing a squadron heavy build.  This is a major reason why you simply don’t see many squadron-less fleets these days.   It’s just too easy to spend 14-30 points to ensure that you are at least mildly prepared to deal with a majority of lists…  and since virtually every list out there uses squadrons at least in part – it’s almost a given that you HAVE to take some squadrons.   Almost…

But going without squadrons can give you all sorts of awesome benefits as well!  Lets talk about some of the benefits.

Single Strategy – For starters, you can build a singular strategy around your ships – weather it’s a full-blown broadside list, a hard charging Star Destroyer list, or something else designed without squadrons in mind, you can focus more on a single idea.

Command Dials – You only have to worry about planning 3 commands, instead of 4, effectively reducing the choices you have to make, and giving you less chance of picking something wrong.  (Although this is also a double edged sword if your opponent is running slicer tools – more on that later).

More Points! – The most obvious benefit is that you have more points to spend on the bulk of your fleet!  That means more ships, more activations, more dedicated anti-ship firepower, and more points for upgrades!

If you want to make a squadron-less fleet work you are going to need to embrace a few key concepts.

Survive – You need to be able to withstand lots of extra poke damage.  A-Wings like to poke and they are cheap.  B-Wings with bomber command center and Yavaris are the worst.    You won’t have an easy way of shutting these squadrons down, so you’ll need to outlast their barrages.   And if you manage to get rid of their ships, the remaining squadrons STILL get to shoot during the squadron phase, since the winner isn’t determined until the end of the round.   You might defeat your opponent only to have their remaining bombers finish you off as well.

Chase –  Relay has been a tremendous boon to fragile carriers.  Flotillas, Quasars, and even a really mean Yavaris can now hang in the back and issue commands from safety.   You’ll need some speed to be able to chase them down and take them out. Try to use ships that can go faster than speed 2.

Table – When your opponent has serious squadron power, the best way to shut them down is to table them.  This isn’t always easy, due to flotillas using scatter, or a single Star Destroyer running engineering every turn.  You’ll need to have a list that has the speed and firepower to catch every ship and table them.

Kill the Flotillas – Since you have no squadrons, it’s especially harmful if an opponent hits you with Slicer tools, so if possible, activate your 1-Command ships first, and prioritize killing those flotillas if you can.  They activate squadrons, can be housing a Bomber Command Center, and are hard enough to kill – you don’t want them getting away and using Relay to finish you off.

Be prepared to lose badly– Even a really well designed fleet with no squadrons is going to lose.   Alot.  If you are going to do this, keep that in mind.  You are gambling here.   Winning will be fun, but facing a swarm of bombers will hurt.   And people run them often.

Bad Ideas

Some ideas tend not to work too well.  Even though at first glance, they might seem like a winning solution for a squadron-less build.

Quad Laser Turrets – A single counter die is only going to do an average of half a damage, each time you are attacked.   This on it’s own isn’t enough to stop a bomber build, especially considering how most bombers have high hit points.  This need to be paired with other cards to work better, and also need to be on every ship.

Cluster Bombs – It sounds attractive, but it’s also expensive to get enough of them to outfit your whole fleet.  Plus it’s a one time use.   On the plus side it can’t be braced or scattered, but chances are, a low health Tycho will simply fly away or go after a ship that has already spent it’s bombs.  As much as I’d like to try to really try these in a heavy environment, there simply isn’t enough reason to use them now.

Single Raider with Impetuous – This title isn’t “bad” but if you are expecting a single raider with this title to stop the enemy squadrons you are going to be in for a disturbing truth.  Enemy squadrons will almost never put themselves in a position for you to shoot at them if this is your one threat.  Either they’ll activate during the squadron phase (after you’ve already gone), and fly out of your firing range, or they’ll activate ahead of you with a squadron command.  To make this title really shine, you need some way to lock down enemy squadrons, and for that purpose you should have chosen the Instigator.

Quasar 2 – The red anti-squadron die is unmatched currently in terms of range and number of squadrons it can hit.   And sure, you can give it Kallus to potentially hurt aces – but at the end of the day you are taking the game’s best pure carrier, and not bringing any squadrons for it to….. “carry”.  I just have a huge problem with that level of inefficiency.

Ideas that can work:

Lets talk about a few ideas that are more reliable and have a better chance to be effective in a variety of circumstances.

Raider 1 – The Raider 1 is a great ship, possibly the BEST ship in the game for this purpose.  It is fast.  It can roll 2 black dice.  It has two titles that specifically deal with Squadrons.  It can take the perfect combination of Flechette Torpedoes and Ordnance Experts to seriously lock down any large group of squadrons.   Consider running several of these.   Best part is they still work well against ships, unlike some other anti-squadron specific options.

Kallus – Dude is amazing for dealing with squadrons.  Combos well with Flechettes but works just as good without them.   And you get to pick the color – so if you really need that accuracy to stop the scatter, or you want the reliable damage from the black, or maybe you are going for the hail mary red die with the double hit… you can chose whatever you need!  And he’s only 3 points, so even if you end up not facing uniques it’s not a terrible waste.

CR-90A – It has alot of things going for it that help make up for the vulnerability that having no squadrons will give you.  It’s fast.  Very fast.  It has alot of red dice, so it can reach pretty far.  It has access to some good upgrades like the TRC.   And it’s cheap.   You can run a ton of them and squadrons will have a hard time keeping up with you, while you pelt their carriers from long range with TRC blast after TRC blast.

Toryn Far – If you are going rebels, you likely aren’t going to mass ships with double black anti squadron dice – so you’ll probably get alot of use out of her.   As a bonus she also helps make Quad Laser Turrets slightly better, so if you are on the fence about that idea, she can help push you over.  And she works against ships too!

 

Every time I try a list with no squadrons, I always know that I am taking a huge gamble, but i suppose that’s part of the fun.   Ideally you hope to get paired up against someone with a counter-squadron build – perhaps someone with a handful of non-threatening squadrons – perhaps with escort, or counter.  But if you can pull off a win against a heavy squadron list – it’ll be worth the anxiety!  Happy Flying!

 

Concentrate Fire – My Favorite Command!

I suppose the title says it all here.   Concentrate Fire is probably my most heavily used command and I just love it, but it’s not perfect.  Maybe I favor it so much because I tend to enjoy games that end quickly?   Maybe it’s an aggressive play style?   Maybe I’d rather destroy an enemy ship before it can shoot me back?   You know what they say, the best defense is a good offense!

I actually think it has something to do with the types of lists I fly.  I used to really favor the CR-90 with Turbolaser Reroute Circuits, but have since gravitates more towards being a serious fan of the Arquitens.  What do a lot of my favorite lists have in common?

Small Ships

Small based ships tend to have a lower number of attack dice, and they also tend to cost a lot less than medium or large ships.   The types of small ships I tend to fly most often are ships that are cheap and have red dice in multiple firing arcs.  A CR-90 with a concentrate fire, can effectively double it’s side arc dice at long range, or add 50% to it’s front shot.  That’s not a bad amount of firepower if you’ve got some way to counter the risk of rolling blanks.  The Arquitens on the other hand, also can double their front shot, but only gain 33% to the side shot.   However, either ship can run TRC to mitigate a single bad result, but the Arquitens have the unique advantage of being Imperial and therefore having access to Vader – an incredibly strong commander where Red Dice are concerned.

Large Ship Disadvantage

Large Ships using concentrate fire, on the other hand, have a significant disadvantage when compared to small ships doing the same command.  A Large ship may be rolling anywhere from 4 to 10 dice already, and getting one extra just isn’t that much of a big deal.  At long range, an ISD may only add 20% to it’s dice count, which is much less, but the closer they get, the less impactful a concentrate fire command feels.   Imagine rolling 8 dice and your command only gives you one more…   Typically by the time an Imperial Star Destroyer, or Liberty MC-80 gets you within medium range, you are going to die regardless, so one extra die isn’t going to matter much.  For large ships, navigation is often far more valuable, considering they can use it to ensure they line up shots and guarantee using the dice they already have.

My Wishlist

How would I fix this balance?  Any fix I come up with for this would have to make Large ships more desirable than they are now, in my mind, while not making medium ships overpowered since they have the ability to take disposable capacitors.  I think a new commander or new officers could help this idea out.

Admiral Lee would act similar to Motti for the rebels.  This is only a rough example for the card, he may have to cost more, and I may have to scale back his benefits… perhaps providing nothing for a small ship in this case.   Maybe an extra reroll for medium, and an extra die for large… but this is just to get the ideas flowing.

For the Empire, I went with a single ship option.

I made him an officer and costed him at a whopping 15 points.   He can give an ISD 3 additional dice when doing a CF, so a total of 4 extra dice for a long range attack.   I might have to make him Large Ship Only.  Something like this would really make an ISD threatening!  But I fear if he’s not restricted to large ships, people might simply put him on a Victory and call it a day.

 

Either way, as it stands right now, I feel Concentrate Fire is best and most efficient on small ships, and since you can field so many MORE of them, it adds up to ALOT more dice overall.   I would love to see some serious incentive for Large Ships to start taking Concentrate Fire more reliably!

 

Rapid Launch Bays – So Delicious!

Rapid Launch Bays has easily got to be one of my favorite cards in the game.  It  allows squadrons to be carried into battle on board a ship and “Launch” directly into the heat of combat.  And while it’s not exactly a “New” card, I do want to talk about just how much I love it!

One of the early things I didn’t like much about Armada, was that enemy fleets had to start the game with squadrons deployed.  Considering that some squadrons are fast, and some are incredibly slow, it never made that much sense to be.  Why would rebels launch A-Wings and a YT-1300 both at the same time while being at maximum distance from enemy contact?  When this card came out it was a breath of fresh air.  Finally, I could have a more thematic battle, with ships launching directly into combat.

Flight Commander is practically an auto include on any ship using Rapid Launch Bays.   It allows you to MOVE first, get into position, THEN drop your squadrons, and immediately shoot.   From a certain point of view, it allows any ship to be as dangerous as a Demolisher.

The usage of this card was also clarified recently.  You don’t actually have to activate the ships that you deploy with this card – allowing them to shoot and move so long as you activate them afterward with some OTHER ship.  You have options!   You can drop some X-Wings, activate ONE of them, perhaps one other ship, and leave the rest of your deployed ships for another activation or perhaps even the squadron phase.

My favorite squadron to use with Rapid Launch bays is probably B-Wings.  Their speed of 2, originally made them incredibly difficult to use effectively.  As a bomber with 2 anti ship dice, you REALLY want these guys up close and personal to enemy ships, and Rapid Launch Bays gives you the ability to deploy them right where you want them.   If you position yourself correctly, you can even drop these trusty bombers so they avoid enemy engagements, allowing them to ravage your enemy’s hull right away!

You can combo this with the Yavaris if you play your cards right.   Dropping some B-Wings at close range of an enemy flagship that has already activated, might be a situation where you want to leave the B-Wings un-activated, if you’ve got a Yavaris nearby that can allow those now close-range B-Wings to double tap.  This is a risky move though, because to do this means you are giving your opponent a chance to react, so you may find your Yavaris destroyed, or your B-Wings engaged by hostile squadrons before they can bomb the enemy flagship. So if you plan to drop your prized bombers in your opponents face, you need to consider how your opponent will counter them before you waste an opportunity to hit them directly.

Rapid Launch Bays can also be used against pesky squadrons.  Suppose you are playing as the Empire and your opponent has a named A-Wing that is stopping all of your best laid plans, and is able to Scatter when you try to attack them, narrowly avoiding death!   Dropping a Boba Fett at range 1 of the enemy’s most annoying squadron might yield you a great opportunity to deal an unavoidable damage, which might be just what it takes to finally get rid of Tycho Celchu or Shara Bey!

 

I generally try to use Rapid Launch Bays on ships that can drop 3 or more squadrons, but also ships that have the mobility required to get them into a good enough position to do so.  Flotillas aren’t bad in this case on either side. It gives them some threat that they may not have otherwise had, and their speed, mobility, and squadron value while all being mediocre, are all balanced well considering their low cost in this case.

For the rebels, I’ve found the Assault Frigate Mk2 tends to be the most well rounded carrier, and works very well as a Rapid Launch Bay platform.  The Empire has several options, with the ISD 1 having the largest potential capacity.  I’ve even tried to use the Raider with Boba Fett before, as a single option, and while not optimal, it still works somewhat interestingly, due to the fact that you can stock a squadron token and still use it, rather than needing to plan a full squadron dial to make this work.

So between the form and the function, Rapid Launch Bays is one of the best upgrades in the game.  It makes the battles more thematic, and really can change the tempo of the way squadrons perform.   I love it and I hope you do to!

 

 

 

How Deadly will the Mandalorians be?

I need to talk about the Mandalorian Gauntlet squadrons that are going to come with the Chimaera expansion for Star Wars Armada.   First off, I’ll admit that we can’t fully see all of their information, but it’s not what we can’t see, but rather what we CAN that’s giving me some cause for both excitement and concern. 

First off, in terms of balance and symmetry, the Empire has been down a ship since the core set.   Now with a refit of the Imperial Star Destroyer, it likely feels like the Empire may be down TWO ships, if you look at this as still being the same model, despite the new versions.  So I’m pleased to see that the Empire is actually gaining a +1 advantage in terms of squadrons.

I’m also happy to see that we aren’t getting bombarded with squadron packs this time around.   This game, for me, has always been first and foremost, about ship-to-ship combat, with squadrons simply one aspect of many.   But for a long time, it felt as though squadrons had so many more options than even ships.   So I’m happy to see only a single squadron make it into the game this time around.  I’m not against adding new squadrons, I’d just like the variety of squadrons to better reflect the points limit on squadrons of 1/3rd your fleet.   I’d effectively like for you to have twice as many ship options as squadron options.  This wave reflects that balance.

The Squadron itself looks strong.   With 7 hull it’s not going to be eliminated easily.  There are two included in this pack, seemingly a generic and Gar Saxon.  Saxon appears to have Rogue and another keyword which I had originally mistaken for Escort.   The symbol is roughly similar to Escort but clearly something else.  If this new keyword is strong I have to wonder if it is also on the generic.  We haven’t seen the dice yet, but we can expect them to be strong considering the reputation of Mandalorians and their ships.  I’m expecting these new squadrons to be amazing.

But I am slightly worried about this new Gauntlet squadron’s cost.   Not the points cost, but rather the $50 price tag on the Chimaera expansion itself.   If this turns out to be one of the best squadrons, that will effectively incentivize some people to buy three of them to run 6 Gauntlet Fighters.   If that proves to be a winning strategy, it represents a very uncomfortable trend for this game.

 

Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe there won’t be much incentive to take more than two.   Hopefully even if there is, we can just borrow one or two from a friend.   The worst case scenario would be for their point cost to warrant you taking 8 or 9, then some one buys 5 Chimaera expansions and wins worlds with a build that some might consider pay-to-win.  I hope that won’t be the case.

 

 

Escape From the Death Star!

I’ve recently put together an interactive adventure using Armada as the basis.   It’s still enjoyable even if you aren’t familiar with Armada.

I hope you guys enjoy it!   It takes awhile to put one of these together.   I may do more in the future.

Ackbar Nebulons – Turning Taboo into Terror

A few weeks ago I was getting ready for an Armada tournament, and I posted on facebook that I was planning on trying a new build, and that it would be “outside of my comfort zone”.  In jest, a friend said that I should be flying Ackbar Nebulons.  This post received several ‘likes’, and a few follow up comments urging me to fly Ackbar Nebulons.  Clearly, I was being mocked.   Or was I?  I decided at that moment that I would put some work into an Ackbar Nebulon list to spite them all either with shock or dismay.

 

Why is this so taboo in the first place?

Generally you want to enhance your biggest strengths, rather than simply offset your weaknesses.  Some times players try to fill in a ‘gap’ in a ship to make it more well rounded, but most of the time in a short game of only 6 turns, championships are won by those who tend to focus more on a ship’s specialty.  Pairing Ackbar with Nebulons is breaking that rule completely down the middle, by not simply enhancing a weakness (the side arcs) but also by crippling the biggest strength (the front arc).

Nebulons want to be pointed directly at the enemy.  Their 3 shields, and 3 red dice are as tough as a Victory Class Star Destroyer when at long range – but they are so weak on their sides they are a great example of a glass cannon.   One well-placed Raider can take down a Nebulon with a single activation.

So how can it work?

To make it work we have to look past the obvious strength of the front arc and look at how that actually limits it.   Anyone who has spent time trying to fly a Salvation, knows how frustrating it can be to NOT have a front shot with that narrow front arc.

That strong front arc, is so narrow that we can flip the entire mentality of this ship by pretending like we WANT to shoot out of the sides.  Why?  The sides are huge – we will ALWAYS have a shot.   And for the few times we don’t – well that’s fine the front will work in those cases.

Another strength here is that they are cheap.   Typical lists with Ackbar will only have 3 main attacking ships.  Here we can get 5 or more with ease.  Cheap allows for that, and allows for upgrades.   Lets talk about upgrades:

Upgrades:

The main upgrade you’ll want to consider is which Turbolaser you want to use.   Typically, I would suggest running with Slaved Turrets.   They are cheap and this is one of the best ships to use them on.

A fleet full of Nebulons running in a line, can ensure that nearly all of their ships will have a side arc on a target.   Declaring Ackbar is also going to rule out your front and rear arcs anyway, so you are likely only ever going to get ONE shot to begin with.  So now you’ve transformed one red die, into four (or five if you’ve selected a concentrate fire command, which in this case you’ll probably want to do a lot).  Five red dice out the side is pretty nice – and consider that against your front arc, which at best could match that, but not beat it.

The ONLY thing you lose this way, is the ability to take two shots.   A typical Nebulon doesn’t ever get two GOOD shots regardless.   And in the rare case that your enemy is directly in front of you and no side-arc is possible – well that is no problem at all.  Just use your front arc, slaved turrets and CF command and you still have the same amount of dice.

Oh and there are still titles available – you don’t have to run them as generics. Consider this fleet:

Nebulon-B Support Refit + Slaved Turret

Nebulon-B Support Refit + Slaved Turret

Nebulon-B Support Refit + Slaved Turret + Salvation

Nebulon-B Escort Frigate + Slaved Turret + Yavaris

(Flagship)GR-75 Medium Transports + Admiral Ackbar + Adar Tallon

Squadrons:

2x VCX-100 Freighter

Luke Skywalker

Biggs Darklighter

Jan Ors

Here is a fleet that is actually pretty versatile and can prove to be very deadly.  First the squadrons – it’s only 88 points but we are taking good advantage of them.  The GR-75 can activate early, getting Luke to get into position and then readying him with Adar Tallon.  Then when Yavaris activates, Jan can move in if needed to free-up Luke, and Luke can shoot twice.   This lets Luke shoot 3 times per turn.   Biggs and Jan will both help keep Luke Alive, and the VCX-100s will allow both Yavaris and the GR-75 to activate from relative safety.  Luke will be a major threat here, even without having a Bomber Command Center close by.

And as for your ships, you just fly them in a line and go keep the Concentrate Fire command dialed up.   You’ll probably want to lead with the Salvation, to discourage an enemy force from getting in front of you.

 

But suppose you want to go with Enhanced Armament.

Now it gets more expensive.   Each upgrade costs 10, but this does have the obvious benefit of allowing you to attack twice.  Assuming you are able to double arc an enemy at long range, you can now shoot 3 out of the front and 2 out of the side.   That alone isn’t particularly noteworthy on it’s own.   What is clearly the better case is to try and do the “Ackbar Slash” on your enemies now: Attacking one ship on the right, and one ship on the left – getting full bonuses now on both attacks!  This does require that you fly your nebulons directly in the middle of your opponent’s ships, and that is pretty much the tricky part – because you will almost certainly be dead as dirt doing that.

But what if you manage to survive?   Assuming you keep your front pointed directly at an enemy, you may end up being able to force them to fire at your front with 3 shields – and using your double braces you may be able to survive.   If you can manage to get a shot after a forward facing enemy closes in on you, it may be possible to double-arc them from EACH of your sides.   This is the absolute best case scenario and would require you being first player in order to pull off, because you are almost certainly dead if you don’t kill them.

In this case a Neb can declare Ackbar and get two side shots on the Star Destroyer.  Enhanced Armament, Ackbar, and being close up allow the use of all of the extra dice available here.  Four red and one Blue on each side, plus a concentrate fire depending on where you need it will add up to 11 total dice.   Not a bad deal at all from a 61 point ship!  (51 plus 10 for Enhanced Armament).  And if the star destroyer survives you can just ram them! And if you cannot manage a front double arc shot a side version should be significantly easier.

 

Here’s a list trying this out.

Nebulon B Support Refit + Enhanced Armament (61)

Nebulon B Support Refit + Enhanced Armament (61)

Nebulon B Support Refit + Enhanced Armament (61)

Nebulon B Support Refit + Enhanced Armament (61)

Flagship -Nebulon B Support Refit + Enhanced Armament + Lando Calrissian +Admiral Ackbar (103)

Squadrons – 3x YT-2400

Five Ships – Five Shooters.   The Squadrons have Rogue so you won’t have to worry about squadron commands, and they are well rounded enough to at least slow down most squadron based threats.  Lando will help prevent Ackbar from being taken out too early.  The rest of the ships you just fly directly at your opponent trying to get as many double side arc shots as you can muster!

 

The strength of this fleet is that with those ultra wide side arcs you’ll be able to shoot at pretty much everything.  If nothing else this type of fleet should be fun!   Imagine charging these unlikely heroes at your enemies!   If you can manage to get a few double side arc Ackbar shots it will be so satisfying your opponent may just stop the game and come shake your hand!

 

Large Ships Need Some Help

 

The Imperial Star Destroyer just doesn’t scare me that much anymore….

So I recently played in a small-ship only tournament for Armada.  Although I wasn’t thrilled about having a restriction on list building, considering Armada has a relatively small collection of ships to choose from to begin with, I felt comfortable regardless, since so many of my competitive lists tend to mostly be small ships anyway.  Here is a video of the tournament for those who are interested:

But this got me thinking why I haven’t been using medium or large ships lately regardless.

Activations:

The biggest advantage I typically see is that having multiple small ships allows me to have a ton of activations.  I like to run with 5 or more, and often can manage at least 6.   This, combined with an initiative bid will usually allow me a ton of flexibility in terms of activations, and allows me to often double-tap an enemy ship with a last activation, then first activation.

Missed opportunities:

Having a large ship with 120 – 150 points all in one spot can be a really dangerous place to be.  Suppose you end up with a crit that says “You cannot attack at long range” – you might be completely ruined for the rest of the game, depending on the fleet you are facing.  Or if you find yourself with no enemy ships in your primary firing arc, you end up getting stuck shooting out of a sub-optimal side, and it can be a huge missed opportunity.  When you are putting almost half of your fleet points into one ship – missing a big shot with it is devastating.

Firepower:

Small ships can have almost the same amount of firepower as large ships.  Consider an Arquitens with enhanced Armament and concentrate fire.  That’s five dice at long range for only 64 points.   And that’s only one arc.  If you are lucky enough to double arc (left and right) you might manage 9 dice from a 64 point ship!  The Aruitens in this case work best with Vader as commander, and while this is effective, it does require a more expensive commander, and deprives you of the flexibility of using someone else like Jerjerrod or Motti.  So if I can get the same firepower as an Imperial Star Destroyer for about half the points.   Sure the ISD can potentially fire twice if it has Gunnery teams, but I could instead just bring a second Arquitens at that point, and not even have the same-target restriction that gunnery teams gives.  And while the ISD is a difficult target to kill, I could argue that a swarm of small ships are even more difficult to fully kill.

A TRC-90 for only 51 points, while not having the same dice as an Arquitens, still has consistent damage and doesn’t require any specific commander to excel. Four of them come in at 204 points and leaves you plenty of room for other ships.  You could potentially run SEVEN of them, and still have points left over for some squadrons.   They are just able to pack so much more firepower per point than Large ships, and they are so maneuverable as well!

 

At Long range, small ships can do ALMOST the same damage that Large ships can do.   And because they tend to be fast and maneuverable, small ships can more easily KEEP the battle at long range without getting stuck in close range.  I feel like Large ships need something to make them formidable again.   Medium ships have a little bit of help with the inclusion of Disposable Capacitors in Wave 6’s Quasar Expansion, but that also can go on small ships!

And what’s worse, it isn’t allowed on Large Ships.  (A real shame in my opinion).  Large ships need some help if I’m going to ever want to bring them to a tournament again.

 

Improving Boba Fett through Rapid Launch bays

Since the new FAQ declared that after you place a squadron with Rapid Launch Bays, you then officially begin their activation, I’ve been itching to try out my long-planned Raider with Boba Fett.  The general idea is that I take a fast ship like the raider, and allow it to drop Boba Fett after moving, turning a raider into a miniature Gladiator (Well for one move at least).  For reference here is a video where I talk about a build for this.

Well I finally got the chance to try it last night.   It wasn’t however, in a 400 point game, but rather at the spur of the moment by buddy and I decided to play a massive 800 point game!  I figured this would be a good time to try out some new things, and I did manage to use Boba Fett on board a raider in this build.  Granted the game was huge – it was also fun!

My opponent ended up having far more squadrons than I did and I was quickly overwhelmed by the darned things.  So I ended up using Boba against a squadron, rather than a ship.   It worked well enough, deploying and dealing a damage, followed up by an attack- but I would have rather used it against a ship.  And yes I realize that even against a ship the activation damage can STILL go to a shield, but it just fits into the whole idea of what I’m trying to do – damage damage damage!   Even so – using Boba’s ability against squadrons is solid and generally a pretty good thing too, as it can’t be impacted by most defensive abilities as it is not an attack.

After the match I began to think that I had missed an opportunity to maximize this ability.  Suppose I had multiple squadrons deploying and Boba was the LAST one.  His ability could finish off a weakened hero squadron, such as Howlrunner, Tycho, Jan Ors, or even an enemy Escort – and then allow for him to attack whomever he wanted.  I could easily get three squadrons loaded up onto a ship with Rapid Launch Bays and Flight Commander.  A Victory would work easily but is slow.  I could significantly increase my cost if I use an ISD – but the squadrons I would want to end up using would be expensive enough.  I could go with a gozanti for the cheaper option, but I’d end up having to use only 2 squadrons.

So my NEW plan is going to be a bit expensive but should be fun.  For now lets assume I’m using a victory.   Sure it’s slower, but I’ll deploy far forward and I probably won’t die before I get the opportunity to drop my squadrons. I’m going to load up Boba Fett, IG-88, and Colonel Jendon.   IG-88 drops first, (Who by the way, is more awesome now than ever before since crazy counterers like Shara Bey exist), then Colonel Jendon drops, and lets IG-88 shoot AGAIN.   Finally Boba Drops and does the last damage needed to finish off an enemy or two.  This may not be the ultimate combo, and it certainly is expensive, but I suspect it will be a powerful way to counter squadrons with Scatter, Rhymerballs, and Howrunner swarms.  And once the Quasar comes out…..

Once the Quasar comes out I believe this would be ideal for that ship in particular, as it will be able to shoot enemy squadrons at LONG RANGE first, soften them up… move in, and then commence shenanigans.  And we’ll be able to a 4th squadron to the mix.  Maybe we an escort like Vader, or change things up and add Zertik Strom and Bossk… the possibilities are endless!   As long as we finish with Boba Fett though!   That is key!

Again I realize that Armada’s version of a Boba Fett Pez Dispenser is an expensive way to launch fighters, but I have realized that the more fighters you add, the more fun can be had!

Taking Sato in a Different Direction

I’ve been having some fun with Sato lately.  I recently flew several MC-30 Scout Frigates with Sato, specifically because they can use Sato to trigger black crits at long range that way.   Plus ordnance experts make them pretty much the ideal ship for triggering Sato… But this time I wanted to try something else.   Something a little more fun and also to test out some ideas that have been floating around in my head.

The key is that ships in this build need to have at least 2 red dice.  This way I can almost always get the maximum benefit from Sato’s ability.  I have been seeing more and more CR-90s with Turbolaser Reroute Circuits lately and I’m going to try to change up the standard CR-90 loadout.  So I wanted to run Enhanced Armament on a CR-90 for my Sato fleet.  This way I’ve got 2 red in front, but also have 2 red on each side.   The rear arc is still weak with only 1 red, but considering how cheap they are I think I can live with that.

Next up I wanted to take a look at the Salvation.   A friend of mine runs a Salvation a lot in many of his Sato builds and he always ends up frustrated.   You see, on paper, it sounds like a dream.   2, possibly even 3 black dice at long range… crits can count as 3 damage if it’s on a black!  You can end up with 11 damage at long range that way if you rolled 2 black crits, a red crit, and used concentrate fire for another black crit.  thirteen if you manage to sneak a spinal armament or slaved turrets in there and roll another red crit!  In practice however, that ends up almost never happening.   First off, a nebulon with Salvation is very predictable.   It’s got a narrow front arc and you know exactly which arc it needs to point at you.  It’s easy for an opponent to dodge it and with it’s weaker side arcs, you may very well NEVER see a front arc shot during a game before the nebulon gets blown up from the side.

So I decided to take a risk and have a little fun with a nebulon by giving it enhanced armament and also Salvation.   I realize this isn’t exactly min/maxing, but like I said, this is an experiment.  The purpose here is two-fold.   First off, I am trying to be less predictable; with 2 red dice on my sides, I can turn those into 2 black dice via Sato, and still pose a threat to enemies that dare to approach my sides with the intention of hitting my weak spot.  Well, certainly more of a threat than the typical red die that tends to do very little on its own.  And secondly, I wanted to fit into the category of having 2 red dice everywhere because of Sato.  This does mean that my front shots are going to cap at 4 dice with a concentrate fire, but the trade off is that I can more than make up for it with reliable side shots.   Additionally, a second die in my armament means I can still take long range shots that happen to be obstructed – and that’s huge, because it really stinks having an entire shot cancelled because you had to remove that first die, and you don’t even get to spend your concentrate fire.

I also wanted to play around with the original MC-80 – a ship I pretty much never use any more.  After playing a lot of games for the Empire with the Arquitens, I’m really wanting more big bad side arcs – and while I could just as easily go with Assault Frigates, I wanted even more and I wanted to use the titles for the MC-80.  Home One seemed like a possibility – If I’m using Sato to make many of my dice black, I’ll REALLY need those accuracies from time to time…  but I decided that I instead wanted to try Defiance because I am trying to set new records for the number of black dice I can potentially throw at long range!  I also tossed on Enhanced Armament onto an MC-80 Assault Cruiser, for a battery armament which includes 5 red dice!  With concentrate fire, Sato, and Defiance, I could potentially throw 4 black dice at long range, plus 3 red!  But what if they are blank?  No problem – lets add leading shots.  Now if my first few dice are blank, I simply use defiance to add a blue, which can then be spent to fix all the bad dice.

Blue dice!   Leading shots got me thinking about blue dice.   You see, everyone tends to think Sato is a black dice machine – but blue is totally an option!  Weather you need an accuracy for that flotilla, or just want to ensure you get no blanks, blue dice can be used or even a combination of black and blue.   So I decided I’d add a second CR-90 and make one of them Dodonna’s Pride!  Face up Damage at Long Range is now easier than ever!  And since I’m adding titles my first CR-90 gets a Jaina’s Light, because why not?

For squadrons I went with started with Tycho because he’s perfect for  Sato list.   I also added Shara Bey, because she’s easily the 2nd best choice.  Also threw in a few Z-95s just because they are cheap and I want a modest initiative bid.  For Objectives I went with Opening Salvo, Planetary Ion Cannon, and Solar Corona.

Here is the final list:

SHIP: MC80 Assault Cruiser 114

UPGRADES PTS
Commander Sato 32
Leading Shots 4
Enhanced Armament 10
Defiance 5
TOTAL POINTS: 165
SHIP: CR90 Corvette A 44

UPGRADES PTS
Enhanced Armament 10
Dodonna’s Pride 6
TOTAL POINTS: 60
SHIP: CR90 Corvette A 44

UPGRADES PTS
Enhanced Armament 10
Jaina’s Light 2
TOTAL POINTS: 56
SHIP: Nebulon-B Support Refit 51

UPGRADES PTS
Enhanced Armament 10
Salvation 7
TOTAL POINTS: 68

SQUADRONS PTS
Tycho Celchu 16
Shara Bey 17
Z-95 Headhunter Squadron × 2 14
TOTAL POINTS: 47
Total : 396 / 400

Are Smaller Expansion Waves a Good Thing?

Since the latest waves of X-Wing and Armada have recently been revealed, I took notice that there seems to be a newer trend with FFG’s waves, in that they are getting smaller.   X-Wing’s Wave 11 now has only 3 ships, and I don’t expect that this time it will get augmented by two “Mystery” ships, because there is no Summer Movie coming out for Star Wars, and it’s FAR too early for any Episode 8 ships to magically show up and be an addition to the wave.

No folks, it looks like this wave is only 3 ships.   Now sure, there are supplemental releases for X-Wing – there always have been.  We have a new Epic ship for Scum on the boat, and I’m sure there will eventually be an X-Wing fix or E-Wing fix… or even a Starviper fix… but that likely won’t show up until closer to the end of the year.   For now it’s just 3 ships.

And Armada has a small wave as well  While it may be technically a 3-ship release as well, because onf of the expansions has two copies of the same ship, it’s still just a 2-expansion wave.

This happened a year ago, with Armada’s Wave 3, which was just the two flotillas.   I remember being really upset, as was a good portion of the community.   It ended up working out though, because Wave 4 was also a 2 ship release and they ended up coming out on the same day, which made Waves 3 and 4 virtually the same, 4-ship wave.  But this time I seriously suspect that Wave 6 for Armada will be the only thing we get for awhile.   And I’m actually fine with it.

There is a long-term problem with making too many ships in each wave.  That problem is starting to show itself in X-Wing.  Look at the recent “Heroes of the Resistance” Pack for example:

Here is a pack chock full of re-released ships.  And before you say it… Yes I know that this is actually a new sculpt for the falcon.   The Dish is new, the engines are better… it is actually a superior model to the old one.  However to the layman, it’s still just another falcon.   And the T-70 X-Wing, while having a fresh paint job, was seriously not needed at all.  Well, it WAS needed, but should have come out in the Force Awakens Core Set IMO.  This marks the third separate release of a T-70 X-Wing.  And the worst part is – we’ve only had ONE movie with T-70s!   God forbid there are new T-70 pilots in Episode 8!

My point is – if FFG gives us every canon ship all at once, it uses up all the design space and we end up having nothing left for next year – and as a result we end up getting reprints.   Now I realize that might be fine with some people and maybe this is just a matter of opinion, but I would rather a smaller wave with more time put into it, to maximize the product’s impact the FIRST time around.

Look at the Force Awakens Core Set for example:

If there was more time allotted to this release, a lot of design goofs could have been prevented.   First off, there was no reason to make Poe a pilot skill 8, since after the movie came out he was known to be the BEST pilot in the Resistance and it’s borderline offensive to make him anything less than a 9.   Additionally, none of the other pilots in here have names.   I think it cheapens the game a bit to have cards like “Red Ace” in place of what should have been Snap Wexley, Jess Pava, and Ello Asty.  These pilots ended up being added to the game much later, over other T-70 releases, but wouldn’t it have been more proper to have them released sooner?

The problem is even worse for capital ships, in that there just aren’t very many available, and if Armada wants to survive and have longevity, it is taking the right steps with only 2 ships per wave.  I had expected the Quasar to come out, and rightly so, but right now they are already almost out of canon ships to release.   You can make arguments for a few Imperials Ships – like the Venator, which supposedly is still in limited service around the time on Episode 4, but that begins to cross that line of Original Triloigy towards the Clone Wars era – and for some legal reasons, FFG can’t do a Clone Wars era timeline, so if they want something from that era they have to find ways of pulling it into the Galactic Civil War timeline.   I don’t know the full details but it’s messy.

Either way, X-Wing has a TON of content right now, and even Armada has grown enough to be diverse and have a strong amount of ships.   Neither of these games NEEDS a huge wave in order to maintain interest.   Just a steady stream of updates, perhaps twice a year is all I need.   Smaller waves will ensure the games stay healthy for years to come.