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.
Card Text: When attacking at Range 3, you may change one of your <hit> results to a <crit> result.
Usage in game: When you absolutley, positively need a crit...
Breakdown: Another card that's pretty straightforward in its use; if you score at least one hit, you can change it into a crit. Simple enough, right?
So I think everyone who has any recognition at all of Wave 2 pilots immediately thought one (or possibly both) of the following-
1. "Hey! I can mitigate the loss of crits via the Heavy Laser Cannon special text with this card!"
2. "Hey! I can stick this guy in the seat next to Kath Scarlet, and make it rain (Crits and Stress Tokens) on 'dem hoes!"
Both of these are great uses for Mercenary Copilot, no debating that. In order to fill some space for the rest of this article though, let's look at two other things- 1) is changing a hit to a crit worth it, and 2) is there anyone else who can benefit from this besides Scarlet?
As for the worthiness, it's a pretty reasonable trade-off for only 2 points. What might make the decision a little tougher is the fact that the Firespray only has one Crew Member slot. By it's nature, and by that I mean Imperial, it doesn't have all of the Crew Members available, but it does have Weapons Engineer and Gunner, both of which can be handy in their own ways. So looking at Mercenary Copilot in that context, is he worth putting in that somewhat precious 2nd chair?
Dig this, and I may have kind of alluded to this before- I can't remember if I was on the FFG Forums, just emailing with people, or if I actually said it on here, but I think in Wave 1, critical damage wasn't really all that necessary. It was nice when it happened, but if you went an entire match without inflicting a crit, not only was it not the end of the world, it probably didn't even really affect your game plans. It was like icing on a donut, y'know? Tasty, but not entirely necessary.
In Wave 2 though, with the big ships on the table, the ability to inflict a critical becomes more important. The big ships, especially the YT, have so much hull, you gotta figure they're going to be flying around shieldless for a decent portion of the match. First few turns, most opponents are going to key on the opponent's big ship, perhaps burning off most, if not all, of the shields while the owning player flies it around willy-nilly, because it's pretty unlikely any 100 point list is capable of killing it in one turn of firing. Then inevitably, some ships get downed, and with less ships firing on her, that YT spends a bunch of game time with a few damage on her hull while she flies around, still fully functional, continuing to soak up fire and down ships- for God's sake, how do you stop it?
Well, you can always stock up on Homing Missiles, which is what a lot of folks seem to be doing right now, or you can work on finding an even semi-reliable way to inflict face-up Damage cards to reduce the effectiveness of those big ships. And since Mercenary Copilot only works at Range 3, you've also got the perfect excuse not to just push all your stuff forward at max speed like a 4th ed 40k Tyranid player.
Is Mercenary Copilot worth more than a Gunner? After all, Gunner certainly does have his uses. I don't know. I really want to say emphatically yes, but I can't quite do it. I will say this though- in the 2 points versus 5 points department? If I can allocate those three points elsewhere doing something like turning an Academy Pilot into a Black Squadron or Winged Gundark, or upgrading a Saber Squadron into Fel's Wrath? He might be more valuable in that context.
A lot of folks complain about the Firespray's lower hull and shields compared to the YT, but the YT's the Sloth-like offspring of an X-Wing and a Y-Wing that somehow came out 2x sized- it can deal out some hurt, and it can take a whole lot more. The Firespray though, most of the pilots and upgrades for her push her towards acting as a long-range gun platform. You can square peg her into a round hole and make her rougher for up close work, but I think as time goes on, most successful lists will go with the flow and have her floating around the backline, only crusing into close-quarters when really necessary.
For the YT, I feel basically the opposite. I think if it's at Range 3, you're probably not doing what you ought to with her, so Mercenary Copilot is inherently of less use. Not to say you shouldn't ever try him out in a YT, but I can't really see trying to fly that ship around and bombing in long range shots like a Firespray with an HLC, or being nearly as effective for even Han as he is being the Crew Member for Kath Scarlet or Krassis Trelix.
I also think this might be the only time taking Proton Torpedoes (via the Slave I title card that most everyone says is totally pointless) might work out pretty well on a Firespray. The card text on PTs allows you to change an eyeball to a crit, then assuming you roll one more hit amongst the three other dice, Mercenary Copilot would kick in to make it (at least) two crits. Not bad for a roll of eyeball, hit, other, and other. If you want to really be disgusting, pair it up with Marksmanship on a pilot that can use Elite Pilot Skills.
This little combo works on any Firespray pilot as well- Kath sliding a Stress Token towards the opponent if they cancel that business, Trelix doing the die result changing and re-rollling one of the undesirable results, even Fett could benefit from this with his high PR, there wouldn't be much an opponent could do to stop it (especially if he spent the first turn grabbing a TL and a buddy burned off a couple of shields later in that first turn- top of the 2nd, Fett Focuses or Marksmanships then throws this business out there).
It might work most (points) efficiently on a Bounty Hunter though. If you'd kind of reverse the Fett line of thinking and send in a couple of TIEs, Advanced, or Interceptors with a higher PR to strip some shields of a particularly problematic small ship, having a PR 3 Bounty Hunter throw in some Torps from a Mercenary Copilot to deliver a coup-de-grace isn't likely to be stupidest thing you do that day. Of course, you can't use Marksmanship to make it truly silly, but for the points, it's not a bad setup.