20 March 2013

Crew Members- Gunner

This post regarding Crew Members is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 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.

Gunner (5)
Card Text:
After you perform an attack that does not hit, immediately perform a primary weapon attack. You cannot perform another attack this round.
Usage in game: Attack outcome insurance policy
Action?: No

Breakdown: So this card is extremely similar to Crew Member Luke. In fact, aside from the two point difference and the single die Focus-lite ability, there's virtually no difference between them. Pretty much everything I said in that article also applies here.

For the sake of completeness, I'm going to copy-paste a bunch of that article after these first few paragraphs so folks who for whatever reason are only interested in Gunner don't have to click over to the Crew Member Luke page to find out what's up, but before I do that, I want to mention two things for my longtime, everyday readers who already read and commented on the copy in the CML article. This way you guys don't get bored, or as bored at least.

I touched on this in the Crew Member- Weapons Engineer article, but wanted to mention it here as well- if you read the card text closely for Gunner, you'll see that nowhere does it state you have to fire at the same target as your original attack (that didn't hit) when the Gunner text kicks in. This isn't like massively game-changing, but a couple of things jumped out at me after this was brought to my attention:

1. If there's somebody at Range 3 that's fairly dangerous, you're really not losing much by taking a crack at him. If the attack doesn't hit, you can select a nearer target that hopefully you'll have better luck hitting once the Gunner text kicks in. Of course, if it does hit, lucky you!

2. You can also use this ploy to try and burn off a Focus or Evade token from your target, making your Gunner attack more likely to invoke Damage on that target or from another allied ship firing on her later in the turn.

Second thing I want to mention is criteria for choosing Gunner over CML. First and most obvious, two points is two points. Again- the only difference between Gunner and CML is that CML gives a single die Focus. If that isn't worth 2 points to you, there's no sense in paying for it.

So what's two points get you? On Outer Rim Smuggler? Not a hell of a lot. On any of the named pilots who can take Elite Pilot Skills? There's a decent amount of fairly interesting stuff to be had for those two points- Squad Leader, Swarm Tactics, Elusiveness, ooooh- Expert Handling! That'd be a trip, wouldn't it? A barrel rollin', Target Lock sheddin' Falcon? Oh, I know, I know, you'd incur a Stress Token. Know what I say to that? Bluh! If you aren't going to try that in at least one game, just for the lulz, then you disappoint me, brother. You disappoint me.

Additionally, Luke is, of course, "dotted", meaning he's a unique pilot. Meaning you can't take multiple copies of him. Meaning that if you were planning on taking Luke Skywalker, X-Wing Pilot, you can't also take Luke Skywalker, Crew Member.

I think that's pretty much it for the new stuff about Gunner. What follows is basically a copy-paste from the CML article. I'll post up another BBB around lunch time to make up for a fairly short article to make up for it. Wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong idea.

Gunner is kind of a confusing card at first glance. Let's break it down into a couple of pieces so we can grasp the card text a little easier. Here's what we've got-

1. You've performed an attack that doesn't hit.
Ok- what does that mean though? Like I missed with all my dice or I got some hits, but they were mitigated by the target's defense dice, Evade tokens, Draw Their Fire, etc?

Right. When we play this game, if you're like me, you roll the Attack dice and say stuff like, "2 hits, 1 crit." This isn't entirely accurate if you read the Combat Phase steps. What you've really got are filled explosion symbols and unfilled explosion symbols. If those results aren't Cancelled then those symbol results become capital-H Hits and Critical Damage, respectively. 

(Note, it was when I was writing this for the Luke article that I was inspired to write the Bikini Battle Basics- The Combat Phase Explained! article. Check it out if you need to brush up on your seven steps.)

So what does the card text mean by "doesn't hit?" An attack that nets no hits against the defender. That is, you didn't roll any explosion symbols or you didn't roll enough to get past his wavy arrow die rolls, eyeball results and he burns a Focus, his Evade tokens, or any combination thereof. If you didn't register a hit against the target ship in the Combat Phase sense of the word, then you can trigger Gunner, so something like Draw Their Fire wouldn't work as a trigger for Gunner's ability- the attack hit, it just gets moved to another ship.

EDIT: In the comments on the Luke article, Bikini Aficionado Patrick brings up a point that Dark Curse's special text might not affect Luke, and therefore Gunner, after all- and I can see where he's coming from. 

DC's card text says no Focus and no re-rolls. Gunner/ Luke's ability is a "a primary weapon attack", not a specifically called-out re-roll. I'd keep an eye on the FFG Rules Forums and subsequent FAQs because I could see this falling on either side of the fence depending on how the game devs wanted DC's ability to work exactly, but for now, I have to say that Gunner and Luke both can be used on Dark Curse.

Note that if your target spends a token in an effort to mitigate your initial attack, that token of course, stays gone (yet another reason why I think Action and token management is going to be super important to successful lists nowadays).

Last bit to add about this- while it's probably somewhat unlikely that you're firing missiles from a YT-1300, but it's entirely likely you're firing a Heavy Laser Cannon or Ion Cannon from a Firespray. In any case, Gunner doesn't care if the initial attack is from a primary or secondary weapon- if the attack don't hit, you must acquit. I mean, you can trigger Gunner's ability.

2. Immediately perform a primary weapon attack.
Ok, so you must fire the primary weapon of the ship Gunner's riding around inside. No missiles, etc.

3. You cannot perform another attack this round.
This last bit throws folks for a bit of a loop too. My take on it is if you've managed to not hit with your first, initial attack, then you manage to somehow not hit with Gunner too, you can't then turn around and attempt a third attack, via Luke or something if you're flying a YT-1300 as all the pilots all have two Crew Member icons (Firesprays only have 1, so moot point there). Either that or it's written with Wave 3 in mind and perhaps there's some mechanism that allows a ship more than one attack per round. In any case, once you're done with Gunner, you're done with that ship.

Still with me? Makin' dollars to ya? It's kind of not too bad if you break it down in chunks when you try to understand it. Of course, that said, I've probably gone and effed something up that'll get me torn apart in the comments.

I think the usage of this upgrade is fairly self-explanatory- if you've tooled up an offensive Falcon or Firespray in your list, but don't have a ton of Actions floating around, Gunner's likely a must-have unless you've got bigger plans for a different pilot. Firesprays might be better off with Mercenary Copilot depending on the pilot driving, but I'll talk about that more in the Mercenary Copilot article.

All right, so last thing I want to mention for this post is this: you need to think a little carefully with Gunner the first few times you use him. There are times you might want to do some things that seem a little counter-intuitive at first glance to try and maximize your options. Don't get in the habit of purposely throwing away good rolls to try and trigger Gunner, but at the same time, if you don't have a great attack, don't waste your Focus tokens to register a single hit on a ship with more than 1 Hull Point left. Ideally, you want to make that token count, as your ship likely only has 1 or 2 defense dice and is a big target, you could probably get better use out of it on a defense roll later in the turn. 

Conversely, if you're defending against someone who has Gunner on board, there are times you might not want to spend your Focus or Evade tokens too. If you can get away with only 1 hit on an otherwise undamaged ship, you might be better off saving your tokens for later attacks too. By allowing that single hit to register, you prevent your opponent from triggering Gunner and probably making it much worse on yourself. 

Bear in mind in either of those scenarios listed above, it's still up to you when to spend a Focus token. You could opt to not spend the Focus on your initial attack roll, but then spend it to modify the Gunner roll and be completely and totally within the rules of the game. For defenders, looking to not take a butt kicking, keep an eye on the tokens available to the ship with Gunner- if he scores a single hit and is sitting on a Focus token, for goodness' sake, take that hit! If he re-rolls with the Gunner ability and a Focus token? Hoo boy.  

Using Gunner can be a bit of a gamble (in that you've already got a pretty decent shot at hitting what you're shooting at to begin with kind of gamble, not in respect to outcome- Gunner definitely increases your chances of hitting [rule book sense of the term] at that point), and a 5 points, it's not a gamble for everybody. I plan on flying my YT-1300 without him for a bunch of games to weigh whether or not I really need to spend that 5 points to make sure I hit my targets or if I'm better off spending those points elsewhere. As usual, your mileage may vary. I tend to play from a more survival-focused, try not to die, try not to lose, kind of mindset rather than max out on attacks and go for broke approach. That's just me and the way I usually play games of just about any kind. Gunner's probably not the greatest fit for me and my lists, but he may be exactly what you need to make sure that all those points you spent on Han Solo are downing a ship or getting really close to it every single time the Falcon throws some red out of that 360 turret.