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.
Card Text: When attacking, you may reroll all of your dice. If you choose to do so, you must reroll as many dice as possible.
Usage in game: Offense-oriented YT-1300 chassis.
Breakdown: So here's the guy we all wanted to be growing up. Oh sure, you probably wanted to be Luke when you were really little, but as you got a little older, you realized that the Force was no match for a good one-liner and a smirk. When you got a little older still, you realized how cool it was to be the guy who didn't kiss his sister, and maybe when you got even older, you banged on the dashboard of your car hoping it'd spring to life from a dead battery (which, it probably didn't, but oh man, if it would have).
It's safe to say that while all of the named YT-1300 pilots are popular, it comes as no surprise that the most popular one by far is He Who Shot First himself, Han Solo. He's a hit with the ladies because he understands foreign languages and is a bit of a rogue, has a gambling problem, but just to the point that it's more an endearing idiosyncratic personality flaw than an intervention-worthy problem, and hey- he's a white guy with a black friend, so he's literally as cool as you can possibly get.
Getting on with it, what's Han bring to the table? First, he's Pilot Skill 9 which of course is as high as you can go without investing in Veteran Instincts. It puts him right up there with Wedge, Vader, and Soontir Fel. So can you make Han shot first jokes the entire match if you've grabbed initative? Yes, by all means you can, but it's getting a teensy bit tired at this point because everyone's doing it. The dude has so many awesome quotes that can be made contextual with even a marginal amount of thought, so throw out some new ones, yo. Like how about when you grease one of your opponent's ships you instead hit 'em with, "Sorry about the mess?" That's cold-blooded right there.
His card text can be a little confusing at a glance (ha, yeah, apparently- as I had it wrong on my initial posting), so let's break it down- first notice that it just says, "When attacking...". No mention of a primary weapon or secondary, just "when attacking", so… that. Secondly, you may re-roll all of your dice; keyword there is may, not must- it's a decision on your part, not something you're forced into. Last bit- "if you choose to do so, you must re-roll as many dice as possible". That's the part that trips folks up (like me, heh)- what's that last part mean exactly and when does it kick in?
Well, consulting the Bikini Battle Basics- The Combat Phase Explained!, we see that the third step, Modify Attack Dice is when Han's card text kicks in. We also know that according to the rule book, if we have multiple abilities available that modify dice (attack or defense either one), we can choose to apply them in the order we, the controlling player, wish.
Ok, long story long- what the hell does that mean exactly?
More or less, it boils down to if you choose to use Han’s card text, then you have to re-roll all of your attack dice. You don’t get to keep hits/ crits (local parlance) or hits/ crits and eyeballs (also local parlance) like you would with a Target Lock- if you choose to activate the Han ability, then you have to pick all the dice up and re-roll them all.
This is generally going to leave you with a two option scenario-
1) Attack isn’t great, so you decide to re-roll everything
2) Attack roll isn't great, but it's more beneficial to apply some other dice modifying mechanism, i.e. Focus, Marksmanship, etc. than re-roll everything.
Now, all that being said, once you've activated Han's card text and re-rolled your dice, you can decide to apply Marksmanship, a Focus, etc. as per usual just as you would doing re-rolls with Target Lock.
Makin' dollars to ya? Picking up what I'm laying down? Catchin' my drift?
Cool. Now we'll talk about how Han's ability interacts with Gunner or Crew Member Luke.
First, this would be as good as time as any to remind you that once a die has been re-rolled, it can't be re-rolled a second time. Says so in the rule book. However, Gunner/ Luke don't really count as re-rolls from a rule book perspective.
Gunner and Luke have similar text when it comes to triggering. Basically, if your attack doesn't hit (rule book sense of the word), then their ability activates. So regardless of whether you went with option 1 or 2 above to try and improve a sub-standard Attack roll, if the target cancels all of your hits and crits (local parlance), Gunner/ Luke kicks on, you pick up all those dice, and make a primary attack (again, distinction here only in case you initially fired Missiles of some sort- works perfectly fine if you made a primary attack as your first attack). This is important- it was clarified to not be considered a re-roll, so you're totally cool using Gunner/ Luke and not violating that pesky "you can only re-roll a die once" rule- you're technically not re-rolling, you're making a primary attack.
Whew. Ok. So you roll your dice (all of them- no choosing a la Target Lock) as a primary weapon attack. What can you do with them now? Can you modify any of them?
Yes. If you kicked on Marksmanship, again- it's on the entire attacking round, so it would affect these kinds of rolls just like it did the initial roll.
If you burned a Focus token on your initial roll, then no, it won't still be in effect. Now, if you've managed to get your hands on a second Focus token, you can of course, use it to modify this roll. Same goes for Luke's built-in Focus-type ability.
Last, and perhaps your best option depending on what you actually rolled, Han's card text ability can re-roll these dice too. Recall his card text just stipulates "When attacking...", well you're attacking, aren't you? So re-roll those dice. Ha. Wondered why I was making such a big deal about that back at the beginning weren't you? Foreshadowing FTW.
Holy mackerel. Ok, now that we've got all that craziness out of the way, let's briefly talk about the remaining Elite Pilot Skills, Crew Members, and Mods.
First, Han needs to be built and played offensively in your list. That said, Marksmanship far outweighs all other Elite Pilot Skills, at least in my opinion. Like most stuff, I'm not saying other stuff can't work on him, but I think Marksmanship is far and away the best EPS he can take. It just meshes so well with his card text.
As for crew, I think you pencil in either Gunner or Luke for the first chair. I kind of waffle around on this, because there are times I look at this and think that it's overkill, especially if you're already pairing Han up with Marksmanship, but here's why I lean towards this recommendation- Han is going to be expensive once you finish tooling him up. He's definitely going to force you into a 3-ship list at 100 points, if not a 2-ship list. As such, he's got to pick up the offensive slack and be downing a ship every turn. Gunner/ Luke is going to help insure that happens.
For the second chair, Chewbacca is a great choice, not just thematically, but also because he's great at keeping the Falcon alive and as you're going to be taking big chunks out of your opponent and likely putting yourself in somewhat compromising situations, you'll use all the help you can get. A case can be made for Nien Nunb, but really with that 360 arc, you shouldn't be having to K-Turn all that often, and if you don't take any of the Stress invoking Wave 2 Elite Pilot Talents, you don't have a ton to worry about other than Kath Scarlet in the Stress department. If you're really scared that she's going to be a problem, just bear in mind you're flying a 1 Agility ship. The chances of you mitigating an unfilled explosion roll is pretty slim to begin with- I'd take my chances in this instance and leave the Sullustan at home with Lando.
As for Mods, I still like Shield Upgrade on YTs, I still don't like Stealth Device because you're flying a ship that's likely to be getting pounded on and is only 1 Agility to start with, and I still think that theoretically the Engine Upgrade could work, but you'll get a far easier return on Shield Upgrade than Engine Upgrade. It should go without saying that if you don't spring for the Falcon title, you're such a bad person.
Missiles you could take, but you're making an already expensive and upgraded ship even more expensive. If you're playing in games above 100 points, I'd say look seriously at packing some Missiles (any kind really) as Han's card text (and Marksmanship if you took it) works on Missiles too, but tournament standard I'd probably leave them at home.
There's probably more I want to say, but this article is crazy long already, so I'm going to call it a night with this final thought- Han is a great ship for anybody, but especially a player new to the game. The 360 arc and card text are very forgiving as is adding a few upgrade bells and whistles, and let's be honest, it's just about the most iconic ship in Star Wars if not the coolest looking model in X-Wing Miniatures. If you're trying to talk a friend into giving the game a shot or you're putting on a demo or something, for goodness' sake, bring Han along if you really want to sell the casual fan on how awesome this game is.