14 October 2014

Modifications- Stygium Particle Accelerator

This post regarding Modifications is part of a larger article regarding Wave 4 listbuilding- the rest of the posts in this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.



Stygium Particle Accelerator (2)
Card Text: When you either decloak or perform a cloak action, you may perform a free evade action.

Usage in game: Making the difficult to draw a bead on to begin with even harder to hit.
Breakdown: I've been saving these last two upgrade cards (Stygium and Advanced Cloaking Device) for last because I kinda have the least to say about them. This isn't because they're simple or because they're not worth talking about, it's because currently they can only be mounted onto a single ship of the 20 Expansions currently available- the TIE Phantom.

I've also been saving them because I've been trying to decide whether or not Cloak needs it's own Bikini Battle Basics article or if I should just talk about it in these two articles. Currently I'm leaning towards the former, but that could just be my bad knee acting up again. Walking around on a concrete factory floor all day for anywhere from 10 to 18 hours isn't great on your undiagnosed knee injury from 2011, let me tell ya. 

Anyhizzle, Stygium Particle Accelerator, right? 

Ok, so it's a benefit with no real drawback save for the fact that it takes up a Modification slot, so this part is fairly simple because, well, why wouldn't you want to get a free Evade token every time you perform a Cloak Action or Decloak, right? I can't think of a reason, anyway. Seems like it's always on, nice, free boon to me. And two points is a pretty reasonable amount for something that's going to help keep that relatively expensive ship alive, right? It doesn't get in the way of any of the Named Pilots for the Phantom's card text, so that's no big deal either. And hey- if you're not Cloaking and Decloaking on the regular, you're probably doing it wrong, so it's not like you're not going to get some use out of the upgrade either. Oh, and finally, it's not an Action. So long story short, when it comes to good upgrade criteria, it's like check, check, check, check, check.

So again, what we're really talking about here is whether or not there's some other Modification you'd rather bolt onto your Phantom. 

Engine Upgrade would give an already very busy Phantom dial the Boost maneuver, but it's twice as much as Stygium and the Phantom already has pretty amazing movement options, so I don't really want to go on record saying that Stygium Particle Accelerator is better than Engine Upgrade or vice versa. That's going to depend on the the guy running the ship more than anything, so let's call that a push. 

Hull Upgrade is perhaps not a terrible idea on a ship that costs 25-32 points stock and only has a pair of Shields and a pair of Hull, but like Engine Upgrade, it's more expensive and definitely debatable in it's effectiveness in this particular context. I feel largely the same way about Shield Upgrade, but at 4 points it's even more expensive and again- I think a valid debate could be raised whether you're better off taking one extra point of Shields over a free Evade token that you can probably generate most any time you want.

Stealth Device has some potential for use and abuse and I believe to be the strongest contender for Phantom Modification instead of Stygium Particle Accelerator (besides of course, spoiler alert- Advanced Cloaking Device) because you raise the Agility of your Phantom to that of a TIE Fighter or TIE Interceptor until you take a hit, but again- with all the maneuvers and moves that a Phantom has at it's disposal, you're probably pretty good at not giving your opponent a target solution to begin with (unless he's just decided to roll a bunch of turret-bearing ships).

Targeting Computer I'm not really even going to bother talking about. The damn Phantom has a 4 Attack primary. If you can't make that work with the standard Actions available, spending 2 points on Targeting Computer probably isn't really going to be the answer either and being as how the Phantom has no tubes of any kind, Munitions Failsafe is pointless too.

All that being said though, what you're probably really asking yourself is do you take Stygium Particle Accelerator or Advanced Cloaking Device since those are the two Modifications that most fully play to the Phantom's unique strength. 

I'll be honest- I'm no expert with a Phantom yet. With that in mind, to me, they both seem pretty easy and effective to use, even for a relative novice. I think the Advanced Cloaking Device is more attractive, but it's also two more points than Stygium. Maybe some of you Phantom experts can sound off in the comments, but to me, it really just comes down to whether or not you have the points for SGA or ACD.

Sorry I really kinda don't have much to say on this topic, but like I said at the start, there's really not much of a counterargument to be had here, at least the way I see it. There's just no real downside to speak of here.


13 October 2014

Docking Bay 94?

Y'all are pretty cheeky sometimes, y'know that? :)


As I'm always one to reward initiative, here's a couple of treats for ya. Oh what could have been, right? Like I said though, now that we're like a year and a half into it, I can't really imagine the site being anything more than The Metal Bikini, even if it seems not everybody gets that the name of the domain is a nod to Leia's outfit from Jedi. 



I might have a couple more on the Chromebook, but I'm at work and it's at home right now. Of course, I might not too. Can't remember. Thought I had more than two lying around, but I could be wrong. Again, the name change happened very early on. 

If you have no idea what I'm talking about here and want to be in on the joke, check out my interview with the NOVA Radio guys. While I don't come right out and actually mention it by name, you can find waaaaay back in the day of like January 2013 I made a reference to the domain name change in this post


I remember thinking after the interview, I wonder how differently things would have gone with the site had I kept the original name. If like it would have been more professional or serious or if everything would have turned out pretty much the same. If it would have been more or less successful, stuff like that. Who knows? In any case, I like TMB and ultimately, happy accident or not, I'm happy that things have gone down the way they have. I mean, 1.6 million pageviews can't be wrong, right? 

Peace!

Crew Member: Tactician

This post regarding Crew Members is part of a larger article regarding Wave 4 listbuilding- the rest of the posts in this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.




Tactician (2)
Card Text: After you perform an attack against a ship inside your firing arc at Range 2, that ship receives a stress token.

Usage in game: Stress infliction.
Breakdown: I don't remember what the trigger was, but I remember having a discussion in the comments on one of the previous articles about whether or not FFG had intended to weaponize Stress from the beginning or if it was some kind of meta-adjuster they thought about along the way. To be honest, I still don't know. I kinda think it's the latter, but I have nothing but my own unique snowflake-like thoughts and beliefs to back that up.

In any case, Stress isn't just some game mechanic to keep you from pulling endless K-Turns anymore.

Tactician is a fairly straightforward card, but as always, there's a couple of things I'd like to point out. First, it goes off after you perform an Attack, any Attack. And by any, I mean either Primary or Secondary. 

Now, before you get all excited, don't forget the bit about your target needing to be in your firing arc. I've mentioned it on here before, but all of the ships (with guns) in X-Wing do in fact, have a firing arc. I know, we get used to talking about the Falcon's 360 degree firing arc and all that, but that's really not accurate from a rules perspective. The rules say that the Falcon does indeed have a firing arc, you just get to shoot out of it because it's also got a turret weapon, just like any other turret weapon. Similarly, the Firespray's rear arc does in fact count as a firing arc for purposes of Tactician according to the FAQ.

The last bit of criteria that needs to be satisfied is that you've got to be at Range 2. This is kind of an odd criteria, it almost kinda seems bolted-on as the result of some playtesting feedback or something. In any case though, if you're at 1 or 3, you're out of luck. You gotta be at two. It's kinda like the holy hand grenade, but in this instance, the number of the counting shall be two.

So how useful is Tactican? Is he worth the seat and the two points?

There are only a few ways to actually, directly inflict Stress on your opponent; Sean outlined them in his Stress Relief article awhile back (as well as a lot of other great points about Stress and if you missed it, it's definitely worth a look). I feel like Stress should be looked at kinda like how Ionizing a ship should be looked at- by itself, it kinda doesn't really do all that much. Sure, it's a pain in the ass and all, but other than being kind of annoying, it's not really a show stopper by itself.

Of course, me taking the time to actually highlight the text and hit that italics button leads you to believe there's a little more to it than that. And you'd be right.

First, inflicting Stress is a pretty good sight worse than just being Ionized. While your opponent does have some options to rid himself of the token rather than being forced into a white 1 Straight, unlike Ion Tokens, you don't just ditch them all at once upon pulling some maneuver. This is the main and probably most significant difference in this comparison. If you have a Stress Token and pull a Green, you're all set for your Perform Action step. But if you have two (or more) Stress Tokens and pull a Green, you remove only a single Stress Token and are still stuck with the other one(s). And being as how you're still Stressed and all, no Perform Action step for you. Which of course, is a very bad thing.

Again though, that's only if you can manage to tag a couple of Stress Tokens on the same ship, so whether or not you want to try and make that your go to strategy, depends a lot on what else you plan on running. By itself, Tactican inflicts it's Stress Token at a fairly worthless time to inflict a Stress Token- that is, not right before the Perform Action step. Your opponent has the opportunity to pull a Green before you really stick him with any lasting effect as a Stress picked up in what's essentially the Combat Phase has no effect whatsoever on shooting or using an Action token.

Obviously I'm not huge on the tournament scene or anything, but I do try to at least stay somewhat current on what the really good players are flying if for no other reason than to try and understand what makes those kind of upper echelon lists tick, but so far I've not seen anybody trying a Stress infliction type list. I don't know if it's because it's too hard to make work in reality or if it's easier to fly Fat Han or Phantoms, but that's kind of what's dominating at the time of this writing.

With those lists in mind, conceptually, a list featuring multiple Tacticians could be tough on a Phantoms list, though I wonder how difficult it'd be to fly in reality. And by that, I mean reliably having those Phantoms in Range 2 and in arc enough of the time to make it work. Fat Han I think would still be a problem because a lot of what makes Fat Han work are the same things that made Han Shoots First work and unfortunately for the opponent, a lot of that stuff doesn't rely on Actions. That said, there would be an advantage to Stressing a ship constantly, even a Fat Han if for no other reason than to deny Focus.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't point out that there are a few named Pilots who would actually benefit from being shot at by a Tactician, so this card from not doing you any good to actually being a detriment, and unfortunately there's no "may" in the rule verbiage, so if you do wind up Attacking Soontir Fel or Keyan Farlander, you will end up buffing them to a certain degree. This is probably a good time to remind you that you don't actually have to Attack in your Combat Phase if you don't want to.

Truth is though, with a little bit of forethought and planning, Stress infliction can be a real limiter to your opponent simply because many folks aren't used to having Stress foisted upon them- they're used to putting it on themselves and then dealing with it shortly thereafter on their own terms. For that reason alone, it's definitely at least worth a shot in a few friendlies, especially if you fly against people who are constantly using K-Turns, Push The Limit, or other self-Stressing upgrades. And bear in mind, there is a lot of stuff out there, Named Pilots and upgrades both, that work only if the target doesn't already have a Stress Token. A well-timed shot from a Tactician can really muck up somebody's larger plans for Jan Ors, for example.

Being a Crew Member, there's not a ton of ships that can even roll Tactician. I could see it working pretty well on a Shuttle (especially one carrying Rebel Captive and being driven by Captain Kagi), a Firespray could be fun with that rear arc and especially nasty with Kath Scarlet driving, not to mention the possibility of loading up some Flechette Torpedoes (via the Slave I Title, of course) in her tubes, and while there's a ton of competition for that seat, I could see it working on a Falcon, though again- you gotta actually have them in arc for it to work. It might be fun in a HWK-290 simply because HWK-290s kinda get ignored a lot because they're fairly easy pickings even in late game, but the plus side is you don't have to actually hit with your Attack for Tactician to work, so you could conceivably put the points you'd normally spend on an Ion Cannon Turret or Blaster Turret to work somewhere else in your list and still have a fairly useful complimentary support ship. That B-Wing E2 crew upgrade card I'm not nuts about for Tactician- in my experience, B-Wings get their mileage around the inevitable hairball of ships in the middle of the table. I doubt you'd spend enough time with targets at Range 2 for it to really be worthwhile, but maybe that's just me. It's usefulness on a Phantom is pretty self-explanatory with the card being included with the ship. You either end up at Range 1 and get to roll more red dice than are even included in the Core Set, or you're inflicting Stress along with your attack because you're at Range 2. With so many moves available, it shouldn't be hard for you to always end up in one of those two scenarios.

Oh, and a couple of ships with Tactician has the potential to be super rough on Porkins. Which is just kind of hilarious to me for reasons I can't fully explain.


07 October 2014

Another Scum and Villainy Reveal!


So yesterday, FFG revealed some more info on the Scum and Villainy faction concerning the upgrades that are exclusive to these dudes: the Salvaged Astromechs and the Illicit upgrades. 

If you ever played the West End Games Star Wars RPGs or even the newer FFG ones, you'll know that much like in real life, there's a whole lot of fun stuff that's illegal in the Star Wars universe. Guns, drugs, awesome tech- you name it. I mean, Han Solo wasn't smuggling toys for underprivileged kids when he had to jettison his cargo, amirite? 

As such, it's not exactly a shock that the S&V dudes are able to rock the Illicit upgrade which is represented by this little guy-  

FFG mentions that not everyone that's Scummy or Villainous gets to use them though- Y-Wings don't have it nor do the SCYK, and apparently the StarViper only gets it through the Virago Title, which is kind of a roundabout way of saying that only the IG-2000 and the Z-95 get to take advantage of the Illicit upgrade. Oh, well, and the Firespray, or at least the Fett version of the Firespray. Not sure about the S&V HWK. I can't squint hard enough to tell. 

The first Illicit upgrade revealed is the "Hot Shot Blaster", which if that doesn't give you a good enough excuse to start talking like Dennis Hopper in Speed, I don't know what will. 


So this card is kind of interesting in that it seems to qualify as a Secondary Weapon System since it has the "ATTACK: such and such" writing on the card that would also qualify for Munitions Failsafe because it's a "Discard this card to attack" kind of thing, which frankly seems just weird to me. Weird enough for me to think I'm completely wrong about this entire paragraph. If so, I'm sure y'all will correct a brotha. 

In any case, it's kind of an odd card as it seems a little overcosted for what it does, but what do I know? I guess it could be handy if you stuck it on a Z because you really wanted that extra Attack die if a great opportunity presented itself, or you don't have the points to attach something like a Heavy Laser Cannon to your Firespray or you want a single use turret kind of thing. I'm curious to see if this card dovetails with something else that'll be revealed later, because I sorta don't get it right now. 



Feedback Array is another Illicit upgrade revealed yesterday, but it's not a Secondary Weapon type thing, which makes me think that Illicit stuff is going to kind of be a grab bag of upgrades that don't really conform to a given "type" or "genre" or whatever the way the current upgrades more or less do. 

As for what it does, it's a sin eater kind of thing where the ship bearing this upgrade can decide to get an ion and suffers 1 Damage to make an enemy ship at Range 1 also suffer 1 Damage rather than performing a normal Attack. 

Two things jump out at me when I read this card. First, is the whole "Suffer Damage" thing. I've talked about this before on here, but if something makes a ship "Suffer Damage", the long story short version is this: while the ship can't try to avoid the damage by rolling green dice or using an Evade token, if the ship has shields, then the damage is applied to the shields as normal. The point is, it doesn't say, "Dealt a Damage Card", so shielding would still be in play. It also wouldn't take out a Stealth Device as the ship wasn't actually "Hit." 

The second thing that jumps out at me is the seemingly odd wording there at the start of the card. You'll notice that this card is not an Attack, it's some stuff that happens instead of an Attack. The reason I bring this up is I think somebody could make a pretty strong debate for this card still working even if the bearer is on top of an Obstacle. If you read The Rules regarding Attacking and Obstacles, you'll find that "... during the Combat Phase (any ship overlapping an obstacle) cannot attack any other ship." Of course, that may be how FFG intended it to work all along, in which case a debate would be kinda pointless, but whatever. You get my drift. 



 So here's another non-Attack, Damage dealing Illicit card. This time though, it's when the ship bearing this upgrade is destroyed, it dings everybody at Range 1 with some more "Suffer Damage." Hard to say how attractive this is in context without knowing the rest of the Illicit cards, but for relatively low-cost ships like Zs and HWKs, you gotta think somebody's going to try a kamikaze list with stuff like this at some point. I don't think that any of the S&V ships can take multiple Illicit upgrades, but man this would be a real pain coupled up with that Feedback Array I just mentioned, huh? 



Inertial Dampeners, aside from sounding like a fancy name for a seatbelt, further reinforces the notion that Illicit upgrades are a potpourri of random upgrades rather than an organized set. 

It triggers when you reveal a Maneuver, so no using it after you've been Ionized, and you discard it to instead perform a stationary. Unlike the Shuttle's stationary move, this one is white instead of red, but then says you get a Stress Token. At a glance, there's no real difference, but the thing here is that if you just pulled a K-Turn or should I say a Segnor's Loop the turn before, your opponent doesn't get to pick your maneuver because you just pulled two reds in a row. Also note the lack of "You can't pull this if you've already got a Stress Token" verbiage we're used to seeing on cards like this. I don't know if any of the S&V pilots or other upgrades will benefit from having a Stress Token, but this would be another way to invoke it if necessary. It'd also be handy if you'd totally guessed wrong about your maneuver in relation to your opponent's or if you just straight up picked the wrong maneuver by accident. 

The Salvaged Astromechs are kind of limited in their use by the S&V guys, at this time at least- they can only slot up in Y-Wings and they're represented by this icon- 



The titular (huh, huh, huh) Salvaged Astromech is a two-pointer that lets you discard a dealt Damage card with the Ship trait. As the majority of the cards in the Damage deck are actually Ship cards, this isn't such a bad deal. Admittedly, it's a one-shot kind of deal, but with Salvaged Astromech being a "You may" rather than an automatic trigger, you can kinda wait and see if you want to just let the Damage happen or if you want to discard it along with SA which is nice. 



First, I like that this Droid is named Genius, but it's in quotes like it's an ironic nickname rather than a true description, y'know? 

So "Genius" allows a Bomb-toting Y-Wing (yeah, that can happen now- more on that in a sec) to drop Bomb after you execute your Maneuver rather than before, which is of course, usually the case. Yeah, you're probably going to get hit with some Damage, but you're flying a Y-Wing. It's not like you can't take it, right? Well, probably. 



Unhinged Astromech is the last revealed Salvaged Astromech, and in this case, they seem to have saved the best for last. Rebel Y-Wings, and one would assume to at least a certain extent the S&V versions as well, aren't the most maneuverable of ships. For one measly, stinkin' point, this guy changes that pretty significantly by making all the 3-speed Y-Wing Maneuvers count as Green Maneuvers. 

How big of a deal is it, you might ask? Well, I popped over to (Yet Another) and pulled up the Rebel version so I could see the available maneuvers. 



How's that treatin' ya? 

Now, again, we've no guarantee that the S&V Y-Wing will have the same dial as the Rebel version, but if it does? Wow. Suddenly Y-Wings have 7 Green Maneuvers! 

There were a couple of other cards revealed in the FFG article as well. 


So for 0 points, your Y-Wing can now haul Bombs. The only real downside here is you use up one of your Torpedo tubes to do it, which may or may not be that big of a deal depending on how different the S&V Y-Wing pilots are compared to the Rebels and how you feel about ordnance in general. It being "Limited" you'll recall means that you can only use one instance of it per ship, so no, you can't take it twice and fill both tubes with Bombs. 


The Virago Title for the StarViper was also revealed. Assuming your SV pilot is PS 4 or higher (again- no real idea what the significance of that is without knowing the cost of the pilots), he can spend a point to take the title and unlock Illicit upgrades as well as Advanced Systems. Hard to say how big of a deal this is at this point with so much still being unknown, but it seems like a pretty reasonable payoff if for no other reason than to sport the always handy Advanced Sensors



Binayre Pirate is basically the S&V Bandit Squadron pilot and he looks much the same as his Rebel counterpart save for the Illicit upgrade slot, one less PS, and the sweet checkered paintjob on his card art. 



The last card revealed (at least I think it's the last one- Christ! I gotta get to bed here at some point!) is a named Z-95 pilot for the S&V called N'Dru Suhlak. As you'd expect, his stats are the same as a standard Z-95 pilot, but he costs 17 points, is PS 7, and has access to Elite Pilot Talents. Well, that and some sweet card text that says if he's lone wolffin' it, he gets an extra Attack die. Cost-wise, he's the same as Blount, and has the same upgrade options, but has one more PS and access to the Illicit upgrade, which kinda makes you wonder if he's not maybe a point undercosted. Suhlak, I mean. I mean, yeah, Blount has the auto-hit regardless of damage thing, but Suhlak has a pretty nice card text ability too.

Anyway, pretty interesting stuff all around! 


06 October 2014

(Yet Another) X-Wing Miniatures Squad Builder- Now with Collection Support!



I got an email from Geordan from (YA)XMSB over the weekend.


Heya,

I finally added the most requested feature to my builder: the ability to track the expansions you own and show you if a list can't be created given what you own.

Odds are I've broken a bunch of things in the process; bug reports/feedback/suggestions always welcome!

https://geordanr.github.io/xwing/


Cheers,
-geordan

So first off- awesome, right? Secondly, help the brotha out and if you find some functionality has been broken, shoot him a bug report, or if you think of a feature or whatever, he's interested in those too. There's even a button for it on his website. 

Thanks Geordan! Nice work as always, pal!