This post regarding Ship Upgrades 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: Increase your shield value by 1.
Usage in game: An extra layer on existing shields, or adding one where before there was none.
Breakdown: Again, the current crop of Modifications are all pretty straightforward in their application; Shield Upgrade being no different. Want to add 1 to the blue number on your ship's cardboard insert thingy? Shield Upgrade's your huckleberry.
So, we'll get right to it- is it worth it? And what ships is it worth it on?
As I've mentioned before, I think face-up Damage cards (that's crits for us common people) and your ability to tack them onto ships is going to play a much larger role in Wave 2 matches than it ever did in Wave 1 matches because it's a good way to neuter big ships with tons of hull.
Of course, that's much easier said than done. Not only do you have to find the points and the right combinations to try and actually inflict those crits, you still have to stay alive long enough to strip all those Shield Tokens off of a Firespray or a YT-1300 in the process. Not exactly what you'd call easy, against a decently competent player.
Now, not only that, you have stuff like Shield Upgrade making it that much harder.
All right, so it's sort of a no-brainer upgrade if you have the points; I mean, there's no ship that actually gets better when it has its shields stripped away, so there's no real downside to taking Shield Upgrade. That said, let's move straight on to why you wouldn't want to put it on your ship.
Shield Upgrade is a Modification, and as such, you can only have one. The other choices being Engine Upgrade and Stealth Device, neither of which are bad choices, are what can make picking Shield Upgrade a little tougher than just automatically trading in your Proton Torpedoes.
I'm going to be talking out of turn a little bit as Stealth Upgrade isn't actually posted yet. I'll talk more about it tomorrow, but essentially, Stealth Device grants you an extra Defense die, but disappears after you take your first hit, for one less point than Shield Upgrade. With that in mind, I think as a general rule, the generic, and by generic I mean no-name, non-dotted pilots, Rebel starfighters ought to take Shield Upgrade and the generic Imperial starfighters ought to take Stealth Device- reason being is you're already capitalizing on something you have. I'm not one of those math whiz types, so I may be fully wrong on this, but to me, a Y-Wing with 4 shields is better than a Y-Wing with 2 Defense dice (again- dropping back to 1 after the first successful hit), and so on. Same way with Stealth on Imperial stuff; I think a TIE Fighter with 4 Defense dice is better than a TIE with one shield. I can already hear the keyboards of the would-be commenters clattering away, but let me just say again guys- I don't think either of these are a bad upgrade for any ship, and there may be math that proves my statement wrong, in which case, I'll change my viewpoint, but until then, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Could be an old ghost rattling around in my head from playing 40k for so long- in that game, you never try and make yourself good at everything if you want to win- you make yourself even better at what you already do well.
Big ships, I don't know. I want to say taking a Shield Upgrade on ships that already have so many shields to start with is kind of overkill, but as I've yet to finish a match with any shields left on my big ship du jour, I can't honestly say that in good faith. Of course, if you're capable of that feat, you'd probably be better off with a Stealth Device, regardless. Making things tougher is the fact that you can take the Falcon title for a measly point and just get yourself an Evade Action. On a Firespray, I could see a pretty strong case being made either way, but I'd lean more towards Stealth Device. I'll elaborate on why in tomorrow's article, though I'm sure you can figure it out.
With the named pilots, this becomes much more contextual- X-Wing Pilot Luke, for example, would benefit more from a Stealth Device because of his pilot ability, and an Imperial that sees a whole lot of close-combat like say, Mauler Mithel, who almost certainly will be shot and shot early on, might benefit more from a Shield Upgrade than a Stealth Device. Of course, Rebel X-Wings and Y-Wings further complicate this selection process by adding Droids like R2-D2 and R2-F2 into the mix, so if you were hoping I was going to produce some big table saying which pilots should take which Modification, well, sorry to disappoint.
Largely, the selection between these devices is going to depend on you and your playstyle. If you're great at maneuvering and staying out of people's firing arcs to begin with, and just need to mitigate the occasional gaffe or forced maneuver, Stealth Device may be a better fit for you than Shield Upgrade, regardless of which Faction you play. Conversely, if you end up with a lot of hull damage because you scream forward into the enemy's guns, Shield Upgrade may serve you better in the long run. Like a lot of other things in this game, your own experience and playstyle counts for a lot when it comes to listbuilding- don't just automatically assume the internet is right about everything when it comes to listbuilding advice. If you find something that works for you, especially if it works well, stick with it.
A few final thoughts regarding Shield Upgrade. First, yes, even ships with no shield value (TIEs, TIE Interceptors) can use the Shield Upgrade- any ship may select a modification. Secondly, yeah, if you've already got R2-D2 for your backseat driver, taking Shield Upgrade is probably a smart idea. Third, yeah, if you were to stick a Shield Upgrade on a YT-1300 piloted by Chewbacca, you're going to be really tough to take down. Ditto for another guy driving a YT-1300 with Chewie in a Crew Member role.