This post regarding Astromech Droids is part of a larger article regarding Wave 1 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n 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 "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.
Card: R5 Astromech (1)
Card Text: During the End phase, you may choose 1 of your face up Damage cards with the Ship trait and flip it face down.
Usage in game: Critical damage effect mitigation.
Quick Take: R5 Astromechs are pretty straightforward in their use, so there won't be a ton to discuss here. For one point, you get to flip down a face up Damage card (usually the result of a Critical Hit) on the ship with the R5. Pretty simple.
What effect does this really have? Ok, first off, there are 33 Damage cards in a X-Wing Miniatures deck. Of those 33 cards, 8 are of the Pilot type, the remaining 25 are of the Ship type, so the likelihood of this card being able to be a theoretical benefit is fairly good (2/3 of a chance- me know math!) if you do happen to incur a face up Damage card.
So what kind of ships benefit from something like this? Obviously a Rebel ship as Imps can't use Astromech droids, so we're looking at X-Wings and Y-Wings. Can we pare this selection process down further? I think we can- Y-Wings, with their 5 Hull Points are more likely to incur Crit damage than an X-Wing, because well, X-Wings with only 3 Hull Points are more likely to blow up before the Crit takes effect. This isn't a knock on the X-Wing, there's just simply less Hull to go around. So a Y-Wing then? Yeah, most likely.
How big of a deal is this? Well, most Damage cards when flipped face up will have some sort of long-lasting effect- all maneuvers of a particular flavor are now red maneuvers, not being able to fire a primary weapon system next game turn, not being able to fire a secondary weapon system at all, suddenly finding yourself playing the rest of the game at Pilot Rank 0, stuff like that. There are some effects that are worse, there are some that are not that big of a deal, and they're fairly evenly peppered throughout the deck between both Pilot and Ship types. Of course, if you're really that concerned about Critical damage effects (which after Wave 2 drops, you just might be...), a Rebel could take both R5 Astromech and the Determination Elite Pilot Skill and hope to get rid of any/ all of those nasty Crit effects.
Don't misunderstand me here- R5 Astromech is not some ship-centric, droid version of Determination; there are two important differences. First, the effects of the Crit do have a chance to take effect with R5 as the text say to flip it face down during the End phase (Determination immediately nullifies) as opposed to immediately upon receiving it. Secondly, Determination makes the ouchie go away entirely- the card isn't flipped down, it's discarded. Not only do you not get dinged with the effects of the Crit, the damage doesn't even actually count against your hull! Not so with R5- the effect of the card is mitigated by flipping it face down, but the card does in fact, stay on your ship, so you are damaged by it, just not Critically. This is why if you scroll back up to my "Usage in Game" entry towards the top of this post, you see that I have "Critical damage effect mitigation". You still take the Hull damage, just not the effect of the Crit. Important distinction.
All that said, is it worth a point? On a generic Y-Wing, yeah, I'd say so. Especially so if you're running several Y-Wings in your list. Only one Y-Wing, I think you're better off putting in a real damage mitigation droid, but if you only have a point left, I think it's worth spending it on a R5. If you've got two or three (or more) Y-Wings in your list, they're each less likely to be the target of focused fire from multiple TIEs, so they're a little more likely to be floating around the board with Hull damage.