11 March 2013

Other Weapon Systems- Seismic Charges

This post regarding Secondary Weapon Systems 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 "Listbuilding Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Seismic Charges (2)
Attack Dice: N/A
Range: 1
Card Text: When you reveal your maneuver dial, you may discard this card to drop 1 seismic charge token. This token detonates at the end of the Activiation Phase.
Usage in game: Multiple ship damage, anti-blocking meta mitigation, spoilsport device
Breakdown: Like Proximity Mines, Seismic Charges is kind of it's own little animal, so there are some fairly significant differences between the way it works compared not only with the usual X-Wing Miniatures weapons, but also to the Prox Mine I talked about last week.

First though, the similarities. As with Proximity Mines, the rules pamphlet included with the Slave I model goes out of it's way to explain that Seismic Charges are not secondary weapons, so again- the generic title of Other Weapon Systems in the title of this post applies here as well. It also explains that Seismic Charges are considered a Bomb, so long story short, it is deployed in-game via the Drop mechanic, which is you place the 1 straight maneuver template behind your ship between the nubs, then place the token at the opposite end, between the nubs on the token.

After that, it gets a little different.

As indicated in the card text, a Seismic Charge is placed when you reveal the owning ship's movement dial. Unlike pretty much everything else in this game, this token goes down on the board before you even move your ship that turn and isn't associated with Actions or Attacks in any way; meaning you're free to do both as usual after dropping a Seismic Charge.

The first thing that goes through my head when I read that is, "Ok- so how's Pilot Rank play into this?" The short answer is, as usual, the higher the PR the better. I'll explain why in just a moment.

So as the Seismic Charges token is placed on the board, you then perform the maneuver for the owning ship as selected on your movement dial, so be sure to select a maneuver that's going to get you out of the blast radius of your Seismic Charges. Unlike the Prox Mines, Seismic Charges have a Range of 1, so you actually can hurt yourself with this one, so watch it

EDIT: No, they can't actually. Even performing a straight 1 or 1 bank maneuver will get you out of Range 1 of your Seismic Charge token. I'd read this claim on the FFG forums a couple of days after I wrote this article, meant to pull out the templates to verify, then completely forgot about it until Bikini Aficionado Scott reminded me of the gaffe in the BBB- Ion Weapons Explained! article comments earlier.

All right, so the Charges token is on the table, and you've moved away from it. What now? What makes this thing go off?

Another difference between Seismic Charges and Prox Mines- Seismic Charges detonate at the end of the Activation Phase. Doesn't matter if anyone touches it or not- it's going to go off after everyone has executed their maneuvers, declared Actions and just before the Combat Phase begins, bringing us to the last detail- each ship at Range 1 of the token suffers 1 damage, then the token is discarded.

Ok, so lots of strange stuff happening here- got it. How do we make this thing work for us?

Well, first, to elaborate on the PR question posed earlier, this card works better on a higher PR pilot because if the token is already in play, ships that have additional movements that occur in the Action Phase (Boost, Barrel Roll, Daredevil, etc.), will probably just drive away from the Seismic Charges if at all possible. Ideally, of course, you want to downplay that possibility, so putting it on a higher PR pilot helps in the sense that pilots with those movement options have already declared their Actions for their portions of the Activation Phase, and as such, can't bail out on the blast radius of the Seismic Charge.

Secondly, bear in mind this weapon does automatic damage- no rolling required nor, in fact, allowed. Evade tokens cannot be spent either, which gives us an idea of who and what to use this thing against.

It should go without saying this card works really well on Firespray pilot Boba Fett because of his pilot ability, but any Firespray you've already tacked an Engine Upgrade on (allowing for the Boost movement) should probably be closely looked at for Seismic Charge duty too.

Against a Rebel opponent which has three ships that don't have the greatest maneuver options in the world (the A-Wing of course being the exception) as well as lots of pilot abilities that are ranged-based, I could see a well-timed Seismic Charge damaging multiple ships fairly easily. I could also see it working against one A-Wing in particular, that of course being Arvel Crynyd. You can practically guarantee if you've got a decently tooled-up Firespray on the board that Crynyd will be looking to ram it. With a teensy bit of pre-planning, you ought to be able to drop a Seismic Charge token well within Range 1 of him and still get away without damage. Worst case scenario? Well, even if he bonks into you and you're completely blocked from making your move, you're going to damage him anyway. Remember- the token drops before you even attempt to move your model, which brings up my next point rather nicely.

A lot was said in Wave 1 about the "blocking" meta. That was/ is a technique where a TIE Swarm player moves so many low PR TIEs into your ship's path that he effectively blocks you from where you want to go. Now, as I've mentioned on the FFG forums several times, this meta was not big in my neck of the woods. I don't think anyone at my store ever tried to play a TIE Swarm that way, or to put it another way, if they were, they didn't make it known and it didn't make enough of an impression on me to think, "Oh my God! I just got blocked!"

Here's the part where I enrage half the internet- I don't think blocking meta works. I think it's one of those things the internet people thought of and repeated over and over until people started believing it even though they'd never actually seen it. You know, like mercury poisoning from a broken CFL bulb somebody stepped on barefoot resulting in pictures that are more akin to the effects of necrotizing fasciitis rather than, you know, peripheral neuropathy. Don't laugh- every day the guy who does the general safety orientation where I work gives those exact slides as part of his presentation because he thinks that stupid email was real.

Anyhizzle, that's kind of a whole other topic, but if you were playing an opponent who was trying to employ that blocking meta, dropping a Seismic Charge would be a good way to ding all those TIEs down a peg. Yeah, maybe you bleed off one of your shields in the process, oh well. They just lost a third of their hull.

It always boils down to this- is it worth it? And as usual, I give my typical answer for stuff that isn't entirely straightforward in its usefulness- it might be for you, it might not.

If you regularly play an opponent who gets right up in your face, then yeah, it's totally worth it with a little work at becoming familiar with how to use it effectively. As that's probably a lot of X-Wing Miniatures players, and certainly the vast majority of the TIE Swarm ones, you could potentially get a lot of use out of Seismic Charges.

Additionally, a lot of people, play this game Rebel versus Empire at the friendly level and as such, are used to seeing that other faction across the table. In tournaments though, the pairings are rarely 50/50 like that and you often have the same factions playing against each other. This card is so out of left field in its usage (and even application to a certain extent), I could see it working really, really effectively against an Imperial player because they simply won't be used to reacting to it like the Rebels will. And for only 2 points, automatically pulling hull points off of a couple of Interceptors, especially pilots that are normally tough to hit anyway, makes it totally worth it in my opinion, but as always, your mileage may vary.

EDIT: I was researching Ion Tokens last night for the upcoming article on the new Ion Cannon, when a scenario in which the Seismic Charge could not be dropped- you guessed it, after being ionized.

When you get ionized, if you read that Ion Token card really closely, you don't select a maneuver. If you don't select a maneuver, you can't reveal a maneuver, which is the trigger for the dropping of a Seismic Charge.


  1. I totally use the blocking maneuver with a few cheap Tie Fighters. It's especially easy with these big ships. I stopped up a YT-1000 by moving one Tie about range 1 away from him. The next at range 2, and the third at range 3. About the only maneuver that he was able to do without getting blocked was a tight 3 turn. The rest had him bumping into one of my ships and then stuck almost where he was. I then had a number of tie fighters all ready for him to be there to blast him. Not particularly hard to do vs. the bigger ships.

  2. If he has the YT-1000, then he only has 2 other ships. I approach with a block of 4 lowly Ties and then one on each flank (Vader & Backstabber lately). Remember that he didn't know that his YT would stop. The other two ships move on forward. This is especially great if he took Biggs as it usually means I have a number of ships that can fire on the Falcon without seeing Biggs. Sometimes one of these ships will peel off to face one of my side ships, but overall, it doesn't affect things too much. If I know I'm going to block him, I can set all my ships up to be in a firing position in that spot. I try to get into the best range I can to fire. I have had one enemy move 2-3 forward and able to fire at the last tie in the chain, but that's OK.

  3. ... but you said you've been on a losing streak? :)

    Here's my thing with blocking, and it sorta goes back to my other comment about the way I approach the game and the mindset I have in general. When you boil it down, blocking only works if you're better at maneuvering than your opponent, and if you're that much better at maneuvering, why wouldn't you just go ahead and exploit his firing arc blind spots while maximizing your own in the process? It's like when a (American) football team goes into a prevent defense- if you were good enough to get a lead, why not keep on doing what you're doing? It's obviously working. Maybe it's just me, I don't watch a ton of NFL, but it seems like one of the most sure-fire ways to cough up a lead, counter-intuitive as it may seem, is to go into a prevent defense.

    Anyway, am I saying I never ever (have I ever felt so low, when you gonna get me outta this black hole?) block a ship? Of course not. I've blocked a ship or two in my day and have been blocked a time or two on purpose.Where I think it goes too far is when you're trying to set up desperately complicated sets of maneuvers solely to deny your opponent a single ship their action when there are soooo many ways to pass around the effect of an Action- a token, in other words.

    In your above example, if you were to block the Falcon in *my* Falcon list, I'd likely still end up with a Focus token. I might not have it for my shooting (course, I might too- depends on some other variables floating about at that point), but I'll very likely have it for a defense roll after my PR.

    So what's the outcome? You've stacked up all these TIEs, denied me an Action, but I still end up with a Focus token. What'd you miss out on? Were there other maneuvers those TIEs could have done that might have been less compromising or have been better decisions to try and maximize damage outcomes to get that YT off the board entirely?

  4. Hmmm......I'm not sure I understand the issue. Man, I wish I knew how to post pictures in the comments field. Does it use image tags?

    OK....you talk as if me moving to block is a defensive maneuver. I like to use it offensively. Also, I tend to think setting up a block is easier than sometimes trying to deal with 3-4 Tie Fighters trying to turn around after the first pass. So, what usually happens is that I get 3 of my 4 (if I have that many after the first volley) Tie Fighters in the front that get to shoot. Then, I usually get the guys coming in on the sides that also get to fire on the same shot. It's easy to set up b/c I know where the guy is going to be.

    I especially like it as the rest of the enemy ships shoots past and they usually can't fire at much.

  5. Oh, and I said I was having dice luck issues, not so much that I was losing all my games. I am still winning a good amount, but my dice have been below average...

  6. First, my bad on the conjecture of your dice luck = losing. Sorry about that.

    Secondly, I think you can post links to pictures because I tried using the greater than/ less than symbols in a comment last week and everything I had inside them disappeared (I was just using them for visual formatting purposes- wasn't trying to do code).

    Last, the blocking thing is a philosophical difference I have with folks who favor it. It's unlikely I'm going to change your mind about its usefulness, and vice versa. I'm of the opinion that most of the time, it's a net zero- you've denied the opponent ship an Action, while also denying yourself an Action. You've made your opponent end up in a place he likely didn't intend to be in, but you've also moved a bunch of your own stuff to try and make that happen. I just don't really see the point.

    I don't know if I necessarily see it as defensive, per se- just a lot of work that probably didn't really have to be done. It's kinda like when your manufacturing process is leaving too much flash on a plastic part. Sure, you can send all of those parts to rework, and maybe it doesn't take that long to get them back into spec. You could also put your work towards figuring out why the process is producing so much flash to begin with, fix that issue, and not worry about it from then on.

    As there are even more options for passing Free Actions and tokens nowadays, I don't think comprising your ship positions just to deny somebody their Action is efficient. Now, if you don't really have an plans for where your ships end up, or that's the only ship left on your opponent's side, ok, I guess you're not really losing anything there- that's what I meant when I said I do occasionally block a ship. It doesn't mean that I think the entire idea of it is bad, what I think is goofy is when people construct entire lists around the idea they're going to block every ship on the opponent's side the entire game. I think that's ludicrous, but I've seen lots of people talking about their blocking lists on the various forums.

    I have a problem with stuff like that because then some new player will read that and go, "Oh! Here's a great idea! I love auto-win buttons! I'm going to do that!" Then he goes and buys a bunch of TIEs and has the bad luck to run into somebody like me at his FLGS. I split my deployment. I run lists that don't go forward at max speed every turn. I pass Free Actions like politicians passing blame. Most importantly, I know when to make like Kenny Rogers, fold 'em, and just fly right on by, knowing I'm a tougher opponent doing a couple of turns than automatically choosing a K-Turn. That guy gets fricasseed by me.

    Maybe he goes and runs across a site like this and gets some pointers and some different strategies to try out, maybe he goes back on that forum he got the blocking idea from and they tell him he did it wrong and after continuing to do it wrong for another handful of games, he quits and tells all his buddies what a horrible game X-Wing is.

    I realize I'm well into "What if" territory there, but I saw more than one person do it with a 4th ed. Khorne Berzerker army in 40k. People on the net said push forward, get into assault, win. Problem was, there was a teensy bit more to step 2 than most folks let on.