12 April 2013

Named Pilots- Kath Scarlet

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.

Kath Scarlet (38)
Card Text: When attacking, the defender receives 1 stress token if he cancels at least 1 <crit> result.

Usage in game: Stress infliction
Breakdown: I'd really hoped FFG would holla back at me about a rules question I had regarding Kath Scarlet, which is why I'd put off writing about her until the very end of my Wave 2 breakdowns, but well, uh... we're at the very end of my Wave 2 breakdowns and unfortunately, ain't no holla back.

Anyhizzle, Kath Scarlet. Pretty popular selection right now if you're fielding a Firespray, and with good reason- decent Pilot Skill (7), cool and readily useful card ability, and some good Elite Pilot Skill synergy to boot. Oh, and after a quick read through of her entry on Wookiepedia, it appears she's pirate of some sort and also hot. Dunno about her firearms technique, but then I'm more of a shotgun guy anyway, so what do I know.

So first off- her card ability. We're talking about cancelling crits (local parlance) here, so we have to look at the Combat Phase to see what all is going on here. Step 6 is where we're going to focus our attention for a moment, as that's where you actually cancel the filled explosion symbol results and unfilled explosion symbol results with wavy arrow results. Long story short, if the defending ship successfully cancels any unfilled explosion results, they earn themselves a Stress Token. 

Doesn't matter if the attack actually ends up hitting (in the rule book sense) or not, if a critical (local parlance) result was cancelled, they're getting a Stress Token, and that's the only way they're getting a Stress Token from a Kath Scarlet attack. Having an uncancelled crit result hit a shield? No, doesn't count. Having an uncancelled crit result get pushed to another ship via Draw Their Fire? No, doesn't count. Having an uncancelled crit flipped face down by Chewbacca or discarded entirely by Determination? No, doesn't count.

See the pattern there? All of those examples are uncancelled crits. For the purposes of her card text, we're only worried about cancelled crits.

As her card says, "cancel", then that's what must happen for her to bestow a Stress Token- not mitigate, not lessened, dealt with, passed on, pissed on, pissed off, or whatever else. Cancel. As in by a green die, Evade token, etc. as described in Step 6. That's it.

Last bit about this- what if you manage to roll (or otherwise produce) two critical results (local parlance) and one of them is cancelled, but the other goes through? The target ship gets a Stress Token and takes Damage as with any other rolled unfilled explosion result. From there, it either eats a shield or flips face-up as usual.

Strangely enough, if you stop and think about it for a moment, Kath is way more likely to Stress out a ship with better Agility than one with worse Agility- remember that when you start cancelling Attack results, you start with filled explosion symbols and once you've cancelled all of those, you then start cancelling unfilled explosion symbols. Not saying it can't happen, but if you've got a selection of two different targets, the ship with the higher Agility is more likely to cancel a crit, and therefore invoke Stress. Of course, most of the higher Agility ships also have more green maneuvers, so it's kinda relative to make that your sole reasoning behind your Kath Scarlet target priority. Contextually though, you can look at it that way, and then if possible, look a step ahead and see how badly a green maneuver is going to screw either ship. I know, that's getting a little deep end, but sometimes the opponent's move is easier to guess than others.

As ideally you took Kath to Stress people out, you want to look at Elite Pilot Skills that are going to make that more likely to happen. I think it goes without saying that Marksmanship goes with Kath like the Beastie Boys and White Castle. Assuming you don't roll all hits (local parlance) and/ or blanks, you're going to end up with at least one crit (local parlance) when it's all said and done. Now, whether that gets cancelled and gives them a Stress token or goes on through as Damage and hopefully flips face up because it smacks their hull, either result is a good one there. If you aren't crazy about Marksmanship, but still wanted something that would dovetail with her card text, Expose could work- it gives you an extra die after all, which gives you better odds at rolling crits (local parlance). Past that, it's my usual take on the other Skills- PS 7 isn't really high enough to rely on Swarm Tactics, Firesprays don't have a ton of green maneuvers stock so the Skills that invoke Stress might be a bit risky, etc.

I talked about it some in the Fett article, but I think Firesprays in general are better at longer range mainly because Imperial lists usually lack long range Attack potential and Firesprays can provide it in spades. As Kath's ability can be made to work in this capacity, that's kind of where I'm going with the rest of my suggested upgrades. Can you make her more medium or short ranged? Of course. A few tweaks here and there and I think she can become a very capable medium to short range combatant- again, I'm mainly doing this because long range Imperial Attack options are so few and far between and I think that's where the average TMB reader will probably find the most benefit, but your individual mileage may vary.

So, weapons first, Proton Torpedoes have a very lite Focus/ Marksmanship type functionality built-in to them allowing you to turn an eyeball result to an unfilled explosion result. Couple that up with Marksmanship, and you end up with two if you roll two eyeballs in addition to any other hits (local parlance) or crits (ditto) you might have rolled. Not bad, and has a good potential to invoke Stress and do Critical Damage, but what about the Heavy Laser Cannon? For only three more points than the Torps, you get a 4 Attack Secondary Weapon System you can fire every round instead of just once per game. Score, right? Yeah, but, keep in mind that the HLC has that card text that states you turn any unfilled explosion results to filled explosion results immediately after rolling your attack dice. Now, you can always add in the Mercenary Copilot crew member, in which case he'll turn one of those hits (local parlance) into a crit (local parlance) provided you can put yourself at Range 3 when you're doing your shooting. If you're wondering, yes- Marksmanship still conceivably helps you out here. The changing of the dice per HLC would happen before you modified them with Marksmanship, so any eyeballs would still change into 1 unfilled explosion result and the rest filled explosion results.

The Ion Cannon has some interesting potential with Kath Scarlet. I mentioned in the Ion Weapons Exlpained! article that the best possible use of an Ion Weapon right now is ionizing an already Stressed ship because it will ultimately deny them their Perform Action step in the next turn. Well, depending on how you roll, Kath Scarlet can conceivably produce the same outcome on any ship (ok- clarifying point, any non-Large ship) within range of her Ion Cannon, depending on how you roll, previously Stressed or not.

The long story short here is you need to produce at least two crits (local parlance) on the three shots the Ion Cannon affords her- one to get cancelled the other to activate the Ion Weapon card text. Not great odds stock, but with Marksmanship turning the first eyeball to a crit (local parlance) and Mercenary Copilot turning any hit into another crit (yup- local) at Range 3 (don't worry- the Firespray-mounted Ion Cannon, unlike the Y-Wing's Ion Cannon Turret is a Range 1-3 weapon)? Well, it gets much more likely.

The odds of pulling this off are of course dependent on what the target ship rolls for his Defense, but you've got decent odds of holding up the attack end of the bargain using both Marksmanship and Mercenary Copilot with your Ion shot. Pretty much anything besides 3 blanks is going to generate the requisite minimum 2 crits (local parlance) necessary to at least give you a chance at making this happen, one way or another.

Brief aside, if you're on the business end of this combo, this is another one of those weird situations like when a Falcon with Gunner or Crew Member Luke is shooting at you- stop and think for a moment before you automatically start spending Tokens or re-rolling dice or whatever.

In short, deciding to use a Focus or Evade token in response to a Kath Scarlet Ion Cannon attack is going to be very contextual. It's possible depending on what everyone rolled that cancelling one of her crits is actually going to leave you worse off than not cancelling it and saving your token. There are many possibilities and they're all different for each ship, but I'll give you one example of what I'm talking about.

  • Kath Scarlet fires Ion Cannon at Range 3 with Marksmanship and Mercenary Copilot at an X-Wing with a Focus Token.
  • Kath rolls two eyeballs and a filled explosion.
  • Kath modifies dice roll, end result is 1 hit and 2 crits.
  • X-Wing rolls two defense dice (no extras for Kath at Range 3- Ion Cannon is a Secondary Weapon) and gets one wavy arrow and one eyeball.

If the X-Wing spends that Focus token, he'd get an end result of 2 Evades. This would cancel Kath's hit first, one of her crits second- which would trigger a Stress Token for the X-Wing, then her uncancelled crit would trigger the Ion Weapon text which cancels the crit result, invokes 1 damage, and an Ion token on the X-Wing.

If the X-Wing doesn't spend the Focus token, he end results just the 1 Evade result, which cancels only Kath's hit result. Both of her crits are uncancelled, which triggers the Ion Card text, which then cancels both crits, invokes 1 damage, and produces an Ion Token on the X-Wing.

Again- the actual difference here is that in the first outcome, the X-Wing makes a 1 straight and has no Perform Action step next turn, while in the second outcome, he just makes the 1 straight.

Kind of a big difference, no?

(NOTE- if you hadn't already figured, this was my rules question to FFG- is this really supposed to work this way?)

All right, now that we have all that hoo ha out of the way, let's look at Crew Members, bearing in mind that unlike the Falcon, the Firespray is only a 2-seater and Kath's taking up one of those seats. I already ran through what Mercenary Copilot does, Weapons Engineer could make an HLC better against multiple targets allowing you to maintain more than one Target Lock at a time, and Gunner helps make sure if you did fire at something and whiff, you still get a chance to redeem yourself in the same Combat Phase. Just remember, if you're tooling Kath for long range fire support, Gunner activates your primary weapon, so while you were denying the defender the extra Defense die at Range 3 before, you're not now (if you're firing on the same target- again, nothing says you actually have to do that).

Ship Upgrades, it's pretty much the same things I said for Krassis Trelix- if you're planning on staying out at Range 3 because you've taken Mercenary Copilot to help fire your HLC or Ion Cannon, I'd lean towards Stealth Device because it's making your Firespray a 4 Agility ship against opponent's Primary weapons at Range 3, or if you're not crazy about that idea, Shield Upgrade is always nice on a ship that already has 4 shields. I think you can even make a case for Engine Upgrade here if you value having more movement options to try and keep you out at Range 3 over a somewhat temporary buff to your Agility or Shields, but keep in mind that it requires an Action and unless you've gotten an extra one from somebody, that's an Action you won't be able to use for Marksmanship or possibly something else as important.

Oh, nearly forgot Bombs. As the defender doesn't get an opportunity to cancel either of the bombs, neither is particularly better or worse on Kath's ship. In this instance, it's largely just personal preference and how many points you want to spend. I do think a Bomb on Kath is a good idea if you can swing it as you can be any opponent worth their salt is going to try and at least get into (and stay within) Range 2 of Kath, if not Range 1 to try and get the extra dice to damage her more. Having a Bomb you can drop on those people is always a nice option to have at your disposal.

NOTE: One last thing- I'm not at all interested in debating or hosting a debate about the Kath + Ion + Marksmanship + Mercenary Copilot thing. I'm really not. Let me say this again- I'm really, really, REALLY not interested.

As I've mentioned, I've submitted the situation for clarification, but unfortunately I've not heard back from FFG yet. I really, really hoped I would before Regionals started, but alas- didn't happen. You can bet when I do hear back from them, I'll come back and update the article one way or another right away, but until then, I'm going to say this gets played as I've outlined above- your mileage may vary.

If you want to argue about this rules interaction situation, head over to an X-Wing-centric rules forum and argue your little hearts out over there. I won't have a bunch of unproductive bickering cluttering up the comments of the hippest pilot bar in the galaxy. This is a site dedicated to being a treasure trove of all kinds of information pertaining to X-Wing Miniatures. If I wanted to host a message board where people argue over rules, I'd do that instead of this.

If you want to talk about the situation- as in have an actual two-way conversation where the involved parties are actually trying to communicate their stance as opposed to browbeating each other into submission, fine. Talk about how it works, why it works, why it might not work- that's totally and completely cool. The moment your comment gets snarky, pissy, or condescending though, it's gone. Just a heads up.

As a rule, I never delete anyone's comments for any reason other than duplicate posts or spam, but this is one time I'm going to break that rule if I feel I need to.

Thanks for understanding!