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.