02 April 2013

Named Pilots- Soontir Fel

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.

Soontir Fel (27)
Card Text: When you receive a stress token, you may assign 1 focus token to your ship.

Usage in game: Fairly controllable Vader-like Action functionality for 2 points less.
Breakdown: I never really got into the Extended Universe stuff. Sure, I read and loved (still do) the Zahn or Thrawn trilogy, and the Dark Empire comics were kinda cool, but after suffering through The Courtship of Princess Leia, The Truce at Bakura, and the first few chapters of the first Rogue Squadron book, I called it a day. I don't know if it was an actual conscious thing as this was literally like 15 years ago (and then some) or if I just kind of moved on. I was reading a lot of strange stuff back then- it would have been around the time I read the Illuminatus! Trilogy, so it would have also been around the time I got heavy into Lovecraft, and then a little later, some of Burroughs stuff and of course, Dennis Rodman's autobiography.

In any case, I have no idea who Soontir Fel is. I'm aware he's an Extended Universe guy, and I think he's Wedge's brother-in-law (not joking- I swear I read that somewhere) and he's also a Baron I believe. Of what exactly, I can't tell you, but I think his full name is Baron Soontir J. Fel, millionaire; he owns a mansion and a yacht.

All that said, not being an avid EU reader, I can't tell you why he becomes more focused when he gets stressed out, but I can identify as I was largely the same way during my 5-year stint working for Johnson Controls, Princeton, so I have a soft spot for the guy already. But I digress. Again.

Anyway, yeah. Fel's good with the potential to be scary good. He's one of those cards everyone is using and for good reason- in addition to his normal Actions, of which he has 4- just like any other Interceptor pilot (Focus, Evade, Barrel Roll, Boost), he gets a free Focus Token if he gets a Stress Token. And yeah, to answer your inevitable question, he can declare a Focus in his Perform Action step, get a Stress Token, then receive a second Focus Token. If you're fuzzy as to how exactly that works, check out Multiple Actions, Same Actions Explained!

Now, yeah, normally a Stress Token is a bad thing as it keeps you from declaring an Action and limits your movement options, so how exactly does this all play out?

First, note that the Interceptor is the 2nd best ship in the game for getting rid of Stress via green maneuvers- they have 7 different moves (the A-Wing wins with 8). The only red moves for an Interceptor are, of course, the K-Turns, so that's pretty handy in this context. I can't find a pic of the Interceptor maneuver chart and frankly I don't want to risk waking the kids up to take a picture of mine (note to self- if people complain in the comments, do this sometime tomorrow and update this article accordingly), but suffice it to say, all of the 2 maneuvers (banks, turns, and straight all available) are green for an Interceptor, as well as the 3 straight and 4 straight. Long story long, if you are going with a game plan that involves purposely generating Stress, you've got a pretty wide array of maneuvers you can pull to get rid of it almost as quickly as you got it.

Bear in mind if you invoke your Stress Token by performing one of those red maneuvers, you're screwing yourself out of Fel's Peform Action step- you still get a Focus token per his card text, but you won't be able to declare an Action, since you get Stressed before you can declare your Action. 
If only you could somehow generate that Stress Token after the Perform Action step...

Ah! Good news for us! Fel can take Elite Pilot Skills! A couple of those generate Stress, right? Right you are, my good readers!

So real quick here- Fel's a nasty enough customer with that Pilot Skill 9 and a TIE Interceptor's maneuverability and stats, just about any of the Elite Pilot Skills are going to work well on him, but for the purposes of this article, let's take a look at just the ones that generate Stress and see what they'll net us when coupled up with his card text.

There are three Elite Pilot Skills that generate a Stress Token as part of their card text- Elusiveness, Push The Limit, and Daredevil.

Daredevil has probably the least provocative, most straightforward use, so let's get it out of the way first. As I've mentioned before, any ship with a white 1 hard turn ability and Daredevil can effectively pull a 180 in a tight space and to the side. Usually the caveat is invoking the Stress Token, but in this instance, it's a good thing, so there's that. The downside of picking this is you need to have room to use it, which may not always be the case. It probably will be, but maybe not. As was pointed out in the comments of another article a week or two ago (be damned if I can remember which one now- can't find it looking back over the likely suspects), a K-Turn offers similar functionality in this context, is free, and takes up no Elite Pilot Skill slot. Other than the forward space required to do it, you're probably better off taking another EPS and leaving Daredevil at home in this context, though you can probably bait overly offensive players into driving off the board edge with it which is always fun.

So what about Elusiveness? Well, right off the bat, it's one of those passive, non-Action things that just sort of happens, so I like that. Secondly, timing interference with your Perform Action step isn't a concern as it triggers when you're fired upon, which means you have time to mitigate with a green maneuver, so that's good too. You could go into your turn burning your Perform Action Focus during an attack, knowing if you get shot at later in the turn, you can generate a Focus Token if necessary by activating Elusiveness (and even burn it in the same combat as the one you used to activate Elusiveness if necessary). 

Last, and perhaps most obvious, Push The Limit. Unlike the other two, you can always trigger Push the Limit so long as you've not done something to forego your Perform Action step (which again- with as many greens as an Interceptor has available, that ought to be about 99.9% of the time). PTL not only gets you a second Action, which generates a Stress Token, which of course gets us another Focus, but TIE Interceptors actually have a bunch of stock Action Bar Actions to choose from, so this isn't one of those things that sounds great in theory but is kinda useless on the tabletop. If you dig the idea of Fel having an Evade Token, two Focus tokens, and a Stress Token tied to him every round of the game, this is the Elite Pilot Skill for you. The only downside? You'll only be able to pull greens in your subsequent movement phases, which again, but this time- the last time, big effin' deal. That's some major functionality right there. And people complain that Interceptors are "too fragile." Please. Do you know how much focused fire it's going to take to reliably bring that down barring just astronomically good Attack rolls or flat out terrible maneuvering on the Fel owning player's part? With a little practice and non-aberrative rolls, Fel + PTL is going to see the clock run out on your game the vast majority of the time.

The biggest thing I think you have to be careful of with Fel is ships sporting Ion Weapons as they've got the potential to keep you from removing the Stress Token you generate with his card text. Is that likely to happen on a ship with Agility 3? Probably not, but the potential is definitely there and if they do manage to Ion you when you're stressed, you can bet they're going to have every available gun pointed at him during the next Combat Phase because they'll likely never have a better shot at turning him into dust. Fel is super dangerous, and super useful, but that doesn't mean he's an invincible tank you can just fly around without regard. Keep him away from Ion Weapons if at all possible since Range 3 won't get you an extra dice against them, and you'll be glad you did.