04 April 2013

Named Pilots- Fel's Wrath

This post regarding Named Pilots 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.

Fel's Wrath (23)
Card Text: When the number of damage cards assigned to you equals or exceeds your hull value, you are not destroyed until the end of the combat phase.

Usage in game: "Nuh uh!" potential when somebody tells you, "You're dead!"
Breakdown: Fel's Wrath isn't getting much love from the internets right now, and to be perfectly straightforward, I don't think that's likely to change in the community at large as time passes. The question is- is that opinion justified or not?

Fel's Wrath is a bit like the Imperial version of Arvel Crynyd. I don't mean that in a literal, "their abilities are the same" sense obviously, more in regard to their place in people's lists, relative ease/ difficulty in their use, and their similarity to other pilots in the same ships. Both have a strange and unique ability that can't really be replicated by any upgrade or Elite Pilot Skill cards, but it's an ability that's pretty context-driven and doesn't really obviously benefit on paper to a massively game-changing degree. Also like Crynyd, he's in that rock and a hard place being a ship with mid-range Pilot Skill rating, but no access to Elite Pilot Talents. To make matters worse, the pilot immediately below him in the food chain, in this instance the Saber Squadron Pilots, can take Elite Pilot skills.

So that all sounds fairly negative, let's accentuate the positive for a bit.

First things first, as it's really the only thing he brings to the table besides a Pilot Skill of 5, which is nothing to write home about really, how significant is his card text?

At a glance, not very. It's not something that actually keeps him alive any longer, doesn't add an Attack or a Defense die, or anything obviously quantifiable like that. It's something that let's him deal some damage when he shouldn't have had any business doing so. That's not a bad thing though, right? We're not incurring any phantom penalty for trying to use him in the way he's meant to, are we?

Nah. In fact, I think Fel's Wrath is another one of those strange pilots that has the ability to affect a veteran opponent more than a novice one. Most people who have played this game more than a few times have their head around the whole Pilot Skill order of operations to at least some degree. Part of the reason you take Wedge or Han or Vader is their high Pilot Skill, which of course means they're going to shoot before other folks, and if they happen to destroy their target, the target doesn't get to shoot back. For most players at this point, that's not an added benefit, it's an expectation. It's something to be relied upon, and it's possible is maybe taken a little for granted.

Now, there's not a veteran player out there who won't look across the table at the start of the game and think to themselves, "Oh- Fel's Wrath. Guy that shoots after he's dead. I better watch that." However, I'm going to bet you after four or five turns, he'll have forgotten about that and is probably just looking across the table at a PS 5 Interceptor because not enough people are playing Fel's Wrath to have forced him to think otherwise. Maybe he then Target Locks instead of Focuses because he's at Range 1 or maybe Fel's Wrath already has a Damage card or two, whatever. In any case, maybe he makes a teensy little mistake and forgets that while everybody knows that Han shoots first, Fel's Wrath always shoots. You catch him with his pants down and off one of those high Pilot Skill ships of his.

Sounds cool, right? So how do you make this work for you?

First, if possible, give your opponent difficult decisions involving Fel's Wrath- even though he won't be, a lot of people are going to look at shooting down Fel's Wrath as a waste of shooting because of his special ability. Pair him up with say, Turd Ferguson who's sporting a Stealth Device, for example. Which one do you shoot? Fel's Wrath is the softer target, but hells bells, even if you kill him, he's still gonna get to attack back. The smarter play from a Damage limiting standpoint would be to try and off Turd, but he's got 4 Defense dice because of the damn Stealth Device. As you probably want to be slightly more conservative with Turd to keep him from overlapping stuff, so he can always attack, so he can always pull his card text moves, play Fel more aggressively against enemy pilots with higher Pilot Skill.

As previously mentioned, you can't stick Elite Pilot Skills on him, but you could throw a Mod at him. As usual, I'd look at Stealth Device on him more closely than I would a Shield Upgrade, and of course Engine Upgrade is redundant. To be honest, I probably wouldn't bother with either though. As always, your mileage may vary. I realize I look at this in kind of a strange, and admittedly non-game tested way- I kind of want him to die to justify his points cost over a Saber. Not right off the bat of course, but at some point, I want him to take somebody with him when he goes.

Secondly, Fel's Wrath always needs to have a target in his arc. His ability does absolutely nada if he doesn't. Yeah, he's 2 points more than a Saber for only 1 more Pilot Skill, so the only real way to justify that cost is to have him definitely shoot somebody after he should be dead and gone. You need to be aggressive with Fel's Wrath, but not to the point where you're denying yourself Attacks because, well, that's the whole point- if you lose your Attack from overlapping an obstacle, overlapping your only valid target, or flying past target ships (especially ones with 360 arcs of fire), Fel's not worth taking.

Which briiiiiings us baaaaack to do, do, do, do, do.

I think to really make Fel's Wrath dependably work for you, you have to be very solid at maneuvering TIE Interceptors and I think that's why he's got kind of a bad reputation going right now- most people haven't played with the Wave 2 stuff to really have gotten proficient with maneuvering the ships yet. Fel's Wrath has some potential, but it's another one of those "not as accessible" ships I'm always talking about that aren't no-brainers to fly, but are still viable. He doesn't have the Elite Pilot Skills to fall back on and isn't a particularly good value for the points compared to the other Interceptors. I do think there's some potential use for him, and I do think as time passes he'll start to get a little love from the community, but the fact is, I don't know that he's really going to consistently end up in lists more than the Saber Squadron Interceptors and I can't imagine him ending up in lists more often than either of the other two named Interceptor pilots.