08 April 2013

Named Pilots- Lando Calrissian

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.

Lando Calrissian (44)
Card Text: After you execute a green maneuver choose 1 other friendly ship at Range 1. That ship may perform 1 free action shown in its action bar.

Usage in game: Free Action passing YT-1300.
Breakdown: As I've mentioned before on messageboard posts and other articles here at TMB, Lando was the card that really jumped out at me when I opened my Falcon. A Free Action to any ship within Range 1 of that huge base any time I do a green? Sure! Why not? The fact that you get to make Colt .45 jokes the entire match is icing on one smooooooth-ass cake.

So normally, this is where I talk about all the nuances and whatnot of the card ability, but as Lando pretty much acts like Squad Leader, just without having to give up your own Action to perform it- instead making a green maneuver, it's more or less the same usage. This ability is especially nice as Lando is PR7, so if you've got some lower PR pilot that's important to your overall plan that took perhaps the wrong Action (namely a Target Lock instead of a Focus), Lando can help fix that problem or to simply allow for additional functionality giving a guy like Dutch a Focus instead of Dreis or his own Perform Action step and vice versa with Dries- giving him a Target Lock.

To put it another way, you may have read on some of the more math-centric sites about the statistical differences between Target Locking and Focusing and find yourself trying to decide which is better in your particular context. Well, with Lando around, it's pretty likely you won't have to make that decision with at least one of your ships. To put it yet another way, you know how awesome it is to be able to fire your primary, then Target Lock, then subsequently Focus those die results?

Ok, ok, so you get the idea.

This is pretty awesome- especially right off the bat, on the "initial pass" as people call it, being able to get a TL to launch any Missiles or Torpedoes you might be sitting on and also be able to Focus the subsequent results in the same turn. The key to making this work is remembering that the rules say you can acquire a new Target Lock even if you have a pre-existing one (you have to discard the previous TL when you acquire another one) and also that the FAQ says you can spend a Target Lock token and choose to not re-roll any dice at all. Really the only thing to keep in mind here, especially with a lower Pilot Skill pilot on your side TLing a higher Pilot Skill pilot on the other team is be sure that whoever you're TL-ing isn't going to get cheeky and Barrel Roll, Boost, or Turd Ferguson their way out of your arc before you get the chance to Attack them.

Available options get even better with A-Wings, Luke, Wedge, and X-Wings/ Y-Wings sporting the named Droids as they have the potential to have more available Actions via Droids or Elite Pilot Skills, so subsequently, more options. Just bear in mind two other things when you're building your list- Lando can't use this ability on himself and he can only give Action Bar Actions- if you've got Biggs with R2-F2 as the intended beneficiary, Biggs will need to activate R2-F2's ability with his Perform Action step then get a Focus or TL via the Free Action from Lando, not the other way around.

As for Crew, Nien Nunb is a no-brainer. The YT-1300 only has 4 green moves stock, Nien Nunb gives you two more for only 1 point. As for the other crew seat, for me it usually comes down to either Crew Member Chewbacca or Gunner. Crew Member Luke obviously works too, he's just a little too expensive for my tastes in a 100 point game on this ship.

The Falcon title is a must for only 1 point and as far as Modifications, I usually lean towards Shield Upgrade for Rebel ships. Again, you can make a case for any of them, but I think the strongest case can be made for Shield Upgrade. Being a 1 Agility ship, Stealth Device is of dubious long-term benefit and while a Boosting YT-1300 may sound like a great idea on paper, I've yet to see it work well enough to justify the point cost of Engine Upgrade. Not saying it can't, just saying I've not seen it.

As for Elite Pilot Skills, well, nothing really dovetails directly into Lando's ability- i.e there's no R2 Astromech or R2-D2 type option that gives you any more green maneuvers or makes your existing green maneuvers somehow better. I've experimented around with Squad Leader (I can pass two Actions per turn???) and Push The Limit (I'm doing greens anyway- why not Focus and Evade every turn to stay alive a little longer???). Depending on how much like running a somewhat complicated list, I think you can make either of those work to good effect- it just depends on how much in-game decision making you want to subject yourself to. Both would give more Action possibilities, but as I'm wont to say, the more decisions I have to really think about, the more likely I am to make a mistake. Don't let that keep you from trying it out, but a list involving those Elite Pilot Skills is something I'd definitely suggest you practice with a bit before just showing up to a tournament after writing your Lando + Squad Leader list an hour before then.

So what else works on Lando? Honestly, I think since he kind of already has a Elite Pilot Skill-type card ability, maybe no Skill at all. Maybe save the points you would have spent on an EPS for Lando and put them towards some Homing Missiles on an A-Wing you've got supporting you or upgrading another pilot in your list from generic to named, or B-list named to A-list named. If you simply must buy him something, maybe dish him Determination as again, the chances of you sustaining a critical and having to deal with it on a large ship are actually pretty good.

By his nature, Lando's kind of a support ship. He's going to get keyed on because of his ability and because he's in a YT-1300. If you've read about the Han Shoots First list (Han + 2 Rookie X-Wings, essentially), most folks say the key to beating that list is focusing on the X-Wings and try to weather the Han storm until they're dead. Any list with Lando is going to pretty much be the exact opposite- folks should go after him at all costs first, then go after your other ships the same way they used to go after Howlrunner first in Swarm lists for largely the same reason- once he's gone, everybody gets much worse very quickly. As his ability to effectively support hinges on making green maneuvers, many of which are straight line maneuvers, and the fact that benefiting ships have to be within Range 1, you, as his opponent, ought to be able to fairly effectively guess what's going to happen before it happens- whether or not they can do anything about it is another story entirely; Howlrunner has no shields and 3 Hull. Lando? A bit beefier, obviously.

So long story long, I think the key to making any Lando list work is tooling him more for defense than offense and flying him conservatively behind a couple of fighters that are really, super offensive oriented. If they can do some heavy hitting sooner rather than later, you're in good shape, but this is a Rebel list you're going to have to play like an Imperial a little bit- you need to make your hay in the early innings rather than wait around and fight a war of attrition going for a late stage victory like Rebel players usually do. If your fighters can pick targets that keep Lando's path clear of overlaps, you've got a good shot at things. I think you can make a case for including Arvel Crynyd in a Lando list as anti-blocking strategy as folks will be looking to block that big base that's making those fairly predictable green maneuvers just about every turn if you were seeking justification for bringing him along to a big game.