13 March 2013

Secondary Weapon Systems- Ion Cannon

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.

Ion Cannon (3)
Attack Dice: 3
Range: 1-3
Card Text: If this attack hits, the defender suffers 1 damage then receives 1 ion token. Then cancel all dice results.
Usage in game: Forcing 1 straights and increasing duration of ship stress on enemy ships.
Breakdown: Unsurprisingly, the Ion Cannon functions fairly similarly to the Ion Cannon Turret, which I've already talked about, however there are some fairly significant differences in this Firespray version which demands further discussion.

Looking at those differences, the Rebel version that bolts onto a Y-Wing is a turret, so it has the 360 degree firing arc. This one is not that one. If you're looking for similar functionality, you won't find it here. The Ion Cannon Turret is taken largely to mitigate the relatively poor movement dial options for a Y-Wing, rather than any real benefit from the Ion Token itself ask yourself this- if you could take an Attack 3 Laser Cannon Turret on a Y-Wing for 5 points, would you ever take the Ion?), at least in my experience. The Rebel version is also limited to Range 1-2 whereas this one is Range 1-3.

What's similar? The fact that they're both 3 Attack dice and hand out a single Ion Token if you manage to get a hit against the target while cancelling any other possible hits. That's about it.

So looking at this distinctly Imperial version with a whole different set of selection criteria than the Rebel version where it's practically a no-brainer on the Y-Wing, what's the deeper story with this Ion Cannon? Because right now, being as how you have to score two Ion Tokens on a large ship, it kinda seems a little bit pointless, doesn't it? Let's keep digging.

I don't know how much you've messed around with Ion Cannons, but on-table, perhaps the best application of an Ion weapon isn't to force the other guy's most maneuverable or dangerous ship into making a 1 straight. I mean, yeah, that's cool and all, and some people will even tell you it's invaluable knowing exactly where your enemy will be after the next movement phase. They're not wrong, but they're not 100% all the way right either. 

It is what everyone says though that hasn't messed around with Ion Tokens much, and to be fair, that's most players. The Y-Wing isn't the easiest ship to use, and an Ion Token by itself, is kinda underwhelming, frankly. For more detailed info on Ion Weapons rules, check out the Bikini Battle Basics- Ion Weapons Explained! article.

The text for the Ion Token card says, boiled down, the ship that received an Ion Token can still do Actions and shoot and stuff, and yes, he does have to make a 1 straight maneuver, which is considered to be a white maneuver. This, dear readers, is the big deal about the Ion Token. If you can manage to Ion a ship with a Stress Token, he's going to hang onto that token for at least another turn, which as we all know, is significant because ships with stress (without some sort of special rule) can't perform Actions.

And ships that can't perform Actions get dealt with. And by dealt with, I mean dealt with

Therefore, the best application for an Ion weapon is ionizing a ship with a stress token.

This is why Ion weapons are going to be worth a lot more now that Wave 2 has dropped- because there are lots more ways to either incur Stress voluntarily or get it stuck to you involuntarily than what was present in Wave 1 when it was fairly contextual. The times they are a changin'.

Currently, it's limited to the Firespray, so let's look at pilots. Fett's ability doesn't really do much for it and personally, I feel like if you're going to look at putting an Ion Cannon on Trelix because of his pilot ability, you'd be better served by paying the extra points (if you can find them, obviously) and going with a Heavy Laser Cannon. Four Attack dice at Range 3 with one re-rolling ain't exactly triflin', but if you don't have the points, you don't have the points. Take it if it fits in your list.

Kath Scarlet? No comment. Keep on walkin'.

The other Firespray pilot of course is the generic Bounty Hunter. Is Ion Cannon worth it on him? As you're likely trying to field a cheaper version of a big ship if you're opting for a generic pilot, yeah, it could be. It's much cheaper than the Heavy Laser Cannon. That said, it's not much different than the stock Primary Attack weapon on the Firespray, so it may not be worth it in your list. I've not investigated it myself personally, but I've read about folks fielding dual Firesprays. This might be one way to do that and make it a little more versatile while scoring Ion Tokens on big ships in the process.


  1. BTW - great articles. Have read them all. Keep it up!

  2. Sorry so rude of me!

    I have been inhaling your posts as fast as you can write them and I haven't thanked you for your insights.

    This blog should be mandatory reading for all x-wing players.

    Many thanks and keep on blogging.

  3. Hey! No problem Matt! I do the same thing with Biscoff Spread. I know how it is.

    Thanks for the kind words, pal!

  4. respect.

    love your sense of humor and insight into nuances of the game.

    keep up the awesome work! :D