Destiny – Rolling blanks for a living

There is only one blank side on Darth Vader’s dice.   How is it that I roll that side nearly every time?

Playing some Destiny tonight it became clear to me that I need to come up with some custom alternate art for my Vader deck.   Here it is.

Honestly my first 3 games I only rolled damage on Vader one time.   Ended up having to use a No Mercy on a single ranged damage from my Nightsister.  My 4th game was almost all damage though.   Good thing the game is fun though, otherwise I’d have felt lousy.

What an Amazing Celebration!

So Star Wars Celebration is over…. Well It’s been over for 2 days but I’ve been completely exhausted and had to get back to doing things around the house that have been neglected.  As a result I haven’t had much time to write.  I did a short recap video here:

It was a great experience for sure.  I’ll admit Sunday morning, that I honestly just wanted to stay in bed… but that quickly went away, as I was instantly reminded of how awesome the con was as soon as I arrived!

One of the coolest parts was being there so early in the morning as an exhibitor before they opened the doors.  Seeing Dave Filoni and Andi Gutierrez just walking around like normal people was almost surreal!   It was the calm before the storm, and I spent a good deal of time sitting at the food court trying to take it all in and commit as much of it as I could to memory.

One of the most important things this year was diversity.   Sitting at the Star Wars Show Stage, watching Kelly Marie Tran shoot T-Shirts at the crowd… I noticed an Asian woman behind me who was trying to get Kelly’s attention.   She said “Oh my god she’s so great!!!” and she meant it.   This was a powerful moment for me because I think everything suddenly came together.   I couldn’t help but wonder what it meant to her to have Asian women represented in Star Wars finally!

That has been an important part of what Lucasfilm has been doing over the past few years.   As a white male, I’ve never really felt left out of the Star Wars Fandom – because almost everyone was a white male.  I could cosplay as anyone I wanted to, and didn’t need to wear a helmet to do so.  But this convention put everything into perspective for me.

The last time Celebration was in Orlando, was long before Episode 7 or Star Wars Rebels.   There were VERY few cosplay options for women… even white women.  The sheer volume of Slave Leia costumes were staggering.   And this year I was able to draw a stark contrast between the two time frames and really take a good look at what has changed.   There were ALOT of females at Celebration, and a lot of young girls were among them!   And a huge portion of them dressed up!   Sure there were some dressed up as Princess Leia, (and even a few as Slave Leia, though not nearly a majority), but there was incredible diversity this time around!

I saw everything ranging from Rey, to Jyn, from Mon Mothma, to Aurra Sing.   From Hera and Sabine, to Governer Price and Mandolorians.   It’s no longer taboo for females to wear an Imperial Officer’s uniform, and no longer to you have to wear a mask if you want to be a bounty hunter.   This year was amazing!

 

 

 

 

Celebration Day 1

Exhausting day but also so amazing!   Got my exhibitor badge so I was able to get inside the exhibit hall early – so if you haven’t seen my youtube videos, go check them out because alot of the footage from today was taken before people came in…. very cool to see the calm before the storm.    Having the main hall empty was also the perfect opportunity to check out the Star Wars Show live stage – and look who I ran into!

Seriously!  I have watched Andi every week for what seems like forever now… and she’s brought me new Star Wars on a pretty regular basis!  She’s amazing and I got to meet her like right away!    Now whatever happens I already hit my goal so this whole weekend is already a success!

Here is some video of the day:

 

Fire the Ion Cannon!

A look at the Armada Defense Objective – Planetary Ion Canon

One of my favorite objectives in Armada has to be Planetary Ion Cannon.  I’ve played it several times in standard games, and also played its Base Defense option in the Corellian Conflict three times back to back – and it has made me a believer!  This objective comes in the Corellian Conflict expansion, so if you want to include it in your fleet, you’ll need to pick up a copy.  And for that matter, if you haven’t picked up a copy yet, what are you waiting for?  There are so many upgrades to your game in that box beyond running a campaign that it’s clearly an expansion everyone should be getting!

Lets look at this objective.

So what does that mean?   It means you get to place 3 objectives on the map, and SHOOT using them, during the game!   You get extra shots!   One extra shot from each objective actually, but only once each turn, so you don’t want them all right next to each other.   It helps to think of them as a sort of land mine – Your opponent may want to avoid them, or they may wish to plow right on through hoping to repair the damage before you add to it.

There are a couple of really significant aspects to this objective that many people might overlook on their first time using it, so I’ll walk you through the important parts first.  First off, you  deploy obstacles as usual.   The setup for this objective starts after that – so you won’t get any setup advantage from this one.  Next you are going to place three objective tokens beyond range 5 of both players’ edges.   That much is easy enough, and you likely wouldn’t want them too close to each other.  If your opponent’s ships are fast enough they could potentially fly right past your tokens and you’ll run the risk of forfeiting shots.  You generally want to set up your obstacles in such a way that give your opponent one clear path to approach you, and that is the path where you will likely want to deploy your objective tokens.  If your opponent decides to go the long way around, that will generally be their downfall, because they will either break up their formation, or have their fastest ships reach you first and allow you to cherry pick targets.

These tokens have a pretty large radius, being able to hit anything up to range 3 of them, and they can target ANY hull zone, which means even if your opponent’s Star Destroyer has it’s front hull zone barely in range 3, you can still target the rear hull zone when shooting!  Additionally, while you can use the special blue crit effect listed on the card, you are also free to use the default crit instead.   Many newer players read this and forget that you always have the default crit unless otherwise specified (A squadron without bomber, for example).

One general strategy when placing the objectives is to try to plan to destroy at least one ship using them.  This may mean placing them in a path, so your first shot, and second shot will likely be able to hit the same target.   And if you are lucky, then possibly even the third shot as well.  This can mean placing all three objectives moderately close together, or it might mean spreading them apart, depending on the speed of the ship you are facing.   A Victory Star Destroyer, for example will go slow enough that you would be able to place all 3 fairly close and get all three shots on the same target – however there is very little chance that these shots alone would be able to kill a Victory, so unless you are going to be able to combo these shots with a barrage or two from your fleet on the same target, you may want to try to cripple a weaker ship on it’s own and save the heavy ships for once your fleet is fully within firing distance.  Which brings me to the two main placement options:

Placement option 1: Aggressive

An aggressive placement means trying to get shots on turns 1, 2, and 3.   Generally, this will often end up giving your opponent the opportunity to repair any damage from the first attack or two before the rest of your fleet is in firing range, and can sometimes prove to be a complete waste of an objective if this is done.   If you DO plan to place your ion tokens aggressively, generally you’ll want your opponents having deployed at very fast speeds, and to do so yourself, in hopes of shooting as early in the game as possible.   An example might be if your opponent deploys several CR-90s at speed 4, and you have a Gladiator with Demolisher that may actually have a shot round 1.

Another aggressive strategy is to commit to a single ship each turn.   If your opponent has a Nebulon-B for example, you can target it’s side and try to get critical damage through.   Or perhaps you have General Dodonna and are fishing for a disabling crit early in the game.   Sometimes an enemy fleet gets positioned so close together, that if you are able to reduce a ship’s speed by 1, you can cause everything to bump – and your opponent may not have a Nav command prepared for turn 1 if they expected to get shot.

Ultimately though, an aggressive placement is very risky because your opponent is likely to repair all damage before the real combat begins.  Additionally, if your opponent has any squadrons with STRATEGIC, they will quickly be able to move your tokens out of the way and ruin your setup.

Placement option 2: Defensive

Defensive is typically the wiser strategy and the one I tend to use most of the time.  Keep in mind that the 2nd player will be the winner if the game ends in a tie – so that means the 1st player has to come to you.  With this knowledge you can set a trap that your opponent will be forced to walk into.  I like to pick a section of the map that I’d like to concentrate on, usually the left or right corner, and set up obstacles blocking most of the ways in.

I will usually leave one single path into my area, and once the time comes to place Objective Tokens, I will put them into the path that I’ve laid out for my opponent.  Now they can choose to come to me  through the Ion Cannon, or come to me through the rocks.  This is particularly effective at harming larger and slower ships, but agile ships like CR-90s can often “thread the needle” so to speak, and will still be able to get to you.   However, if you are keeping your fleet fairly close together, you shouldn’t have any problems dealing with one or two CR-90s that approach your formation too early.  It’s basically Divide and Conquer, for Star Wars Armada.

 

Regardless of which approach you decide, one thing you don’t want to do is spend one of your three shots on a ship that will simply repair all of the damage before you can continue to fire.  If your opponent has built in shield recovery, like Redundant Shields or Projection Experts then you will not want to start shooting them on turn one, since in all likelihood they will fully repair all damage right the same turn.  Don’t forget, your opponent does get to set dials after you place your tokens.

And lastly, you don’t always HAVE to shoot.  You can maximize your advantage by waiting until the right opportunity to spend an objective token.  Maybe you deploy your tokens fairly far forward, which prompts your opponent to start the game with an engineering command.  If you opt NOT to fire, your opponent will be forced to take a token rather than repair the damage, and now you can fire the next turn when they have something less helpful queued up in their command dial.

 

But what if you are 1st player?

   If you are the 1st player you might want to consider this one if you have a few squadrons with Strategic, as you can then move the objective tokens out of the way.   You may also want to choose this objective if your fleet has mostly tough ships that can mitigate or recover the damage easily.   Ships with Redundant Shielding, supporting ships with projection Experts, and Tarkin fleets handing out Engineering tokens (possibly Garm here as well) all will help minimize the impact from an aggressive 2nd player who might deploy these tokens close to your starting position.  Additionally, if you have Mon Mothma you will be able to remove a die of your choice with an evade token, making the attack even weaker.

The GREEN Version In the Campaign!

 

The Corellian Conflict has a Base Defense version of this map that is slightly different.  I’m not going to talk about the Base Defense version too much other than to say that it plays differently, and if you haven’t played the campaign’s Green Version yet, you will want to re-read each card because of two primary differences.  1) You will have to deploy ALL of your forces first as second player, and 2) you DON’T pick up the tokens after you use them.  (Yes that’s right the base defense version actually leaves the tokens on the map so you can fire from it multiple times!   The campaign can be crazy that way!)   This one is a great way to defend a base, especially against a superior force.  I’ve used a fresh 400 point fleet to fend off a 500 point fleet attacking, and this was my all-star objective of choice.   Try it and you won’t regret it!

 

 

Does Armada Need a New Core Set?

Every single time I talk to someone who is interested in Armada, the number one complaint they have is that the price point is too high to get started.  And they are right.   An MSRP of $99 is a huge barrier to entry for most people, and while it does go on sale from time to time, it still remains one of the most expensive FFG games on the market.  If you compare it to X-Wing’s core set at only $39.99, it is easy to see why even the biggest Star Wars fan will choose X-Wing over Armada.

 

So what if FFG followed X-Wing’s lead, and released a new core set, priced around $40 bucks?   It could have all new stuff, so new players and veterans alike will both want to pick up a copy.  It would have all the basic components, but include smaller ships.  No Star Destroyers in this one.   If it’s going to have three ships, then they need to be small.   Reducing the plastic can help reduce the cost.  That also means less squadrons.   Heck they could possibly do a core set with zero squadrons if they wanted to.  The game has more than enough right now.  If it gets people to buy in, then I’m all for it.

Episode 8 could in theory provide the perfect opportunity to do this.  If Episode 8 has enough ships, and the right types, we could potentially see 3 small ships in a smaller core set.   It might also provide an opportunity to balance the factions, since the Rebels have one more ship than the Empire right now, it could be 2 weaker First Order ships paired up against a stronger Resistance ship.   And yes, First Order and Imperials would be allowed to team up, and so would the Resistance and Rebellion – they would effectively be the same faction, just like in X-Wing.

There’s also the idea that they could create smaller core sets called “Starters” – one for each faction.  A “First Order” starter and a “Resistance” starter – this way you could include only 2 ships in each one and really bring the cost down.   Most players on a budget tend to stick with a single faction for awhile anyway.

Anything to get people into the game is a good thing!  Especially people who don’t have $100 to spend on a game they aren’t 100% sure of.

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.

Five Thousand Subscribers!

It finally happened!   I want to thank everyone for helping me hit 5K subscribers on youtube!   It’s a pretty big milestone and I’m absolutely thrilled!   As a way to say THANK YOU!!!! to everyone I’m giving stuff away!   On youtube, I’m giving away a C-ROC!  (In the form of a giftcard to coolstuff inc)!

And here on the website I’m having another giveaway on the message boards.   You’ll need to register to enter, but it’s simple and then you’ll just have to post in the giveaway topic under the video games section.  The winner will get a Force Unleashed 2 STEAM key for PC.   It’s an oldie but a goodie!

Thanks so much guys!   You’ve helped me so much through the past few years.  Weather it’s critical feedback, words of encouragement, or catching something that I missed, I generally appreciate all of you!

Here’s the video:

Three Weeks Until Star Wars Celebration!!!!

I’m counting down the days!   This will be the first Celebration that I’ve actually been a part of!   I’ve gone in the past, but usually just showed up, and walked around for an hour or two.  Living in Orlando, I suppose I took it for granted that Celebration used to be here so often.   But ever since Disney bought Lucasfilm, it hasn’t been back to Orlando.   Until this year.

This year I’ll be working a few hours each day at the FFG booth, demoing X-Wing and Armada.   I likely won’t be able to attend the Episode 8 panel, but it does look like I’ll be able to go to the Rebels Season 4 panel, so that’s cool!   And either way it’ll all be up on youtube shortly afterward right?

Destiny Stock Problems

Destiny is a fun game!  It follows the Collectible Model that has made games like Pokémon and Magic the Gathering highly successful.   It’s got the thrill of opening boosters!   Well, if you can actually GET any!

The main problem is that they have no stock!  Awakenings was the first set and was sold out almost everywhere the first day.  In many cases, the it was sold out within the first ten minutes.  It looked to be heading in the direction of “Pre-Order or Bust”.   I went from being very excited about the game to ranking it much lower in my priorities, due to the lack of availability.  Sure, I pre-ordered a few boxes… but there were so few people to play against, and many times when I did find an opponent they had such a small selection of cards available that it didn’t seem fair.

But all that was going to change with Spirit of the Rebellion!  At the GAMA Trade show, FFG made a huge deal about how now they understood the demand and were going to have enough product!  Fans of the games cheered, while skeptics raised an eyebrow.  I was of the mindset “We’ll see how this next release goes”.  And it’s off to a terrible start.

The Spirit of Rebellion launch event, which takes place April 1st and 2nd, is already going south.  One major retailer told me that they are only getting enough boosters for 24 people, and only getting enough promos for 8 people!  FFG announced that everyone who came would have the ability to earn 3 promos each (There are 3 different promos, so you’ll need all 3 if you want the full set).  But it seems they have given distributors1/3rd the quantity of promos to go along with the cards available.   And the cards were also slashed.   These stores were supposed to be able to accommodate more than 24 people as well.   Everything they order is getting slashed by a small inventory.

This leaves retailers with the dilemma of giving everyone just ONE promo (When FFG promised them 3 each), or giving the first 8 people each a full set, (Which leaves everyone else with nothing).   And this is the LAUNCH EVENT for the expansion that is supposed to FIX EVERYTHING!   I don’t want to say it looks bad… but it looks really bad.

I don’t know if I’ll be playing this game for much longer.   Shame too, because it’s quite fun.