27 September 2013

(Yet Another) X-Wing Squadron Builder by Geordan

Before I start rolling, let me apologize. Geordan told me about his listbuilder a long time ago and I told him I was going to review it and add it to the Listbuilder article I wrote awhile back and I did neither. 

That's my bad. 

Without further adieu though, let me shine a light on (Yet Another) X-Wing Squadron Builder!

Geordan's added in some nice features to his builder- I like the background art, I like that I can just flip through cards without having to even build a list, easily printable, a view as text feature, you name it. 

Of course, you've got the usual features too- a random squadrons generator, stat previews on mouseover, the ability to name your sheet and save it upon login, etc. 

There's a lot to offer here- check it out! 

26 September 2013

Secondary Weapon Systems- Advanced Proton Torpedoes

This post regarding Secondary Weapon Systems is part of a larger article regarding Wave 3 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 "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Advanced Proton Torpedoes (6)
Attack Value: 5
Range: 1
Card Text: Attack (Target Lock): Spend your target lock and discard this card to perform this attack. You may change up to three of your blank results to <eyeball> results
Usage: I have a bad habit of not reading stuff closely until I have to explain it to somebody else. I don't know, that's not entirely accurate- I have a bad habit of not fully understanding something until I have to explain it to somebody else. On some things. Not everything- some stuff I'm forced to figure it out and I never really ever have to explain it, but many things I generally read or learn just enough to do whatever's necessary to make it work for me and rarely dig much deeper.

Case in point? Advanced Proton Torpedoes.

I remember seeing the card text for this back when it was initially released and kinda went, "Sheesh- ok, I gotta have a Target Lock and Focus to make that fully worthwhile, but if I do, it's a pretty guaranteed butt-kicking." And never really went any farther than that with it.

What completely slipped right past me was that it was an Attack 5 Secondary Weapon.

Now, admittedly, I doubt my life would be any less complete if I'd not started this blog and started to write this article which forced me to read this card more closely, but it is kind of a big deal.

Yeah, it's expensive, there's no denying that, and at a passing glance, the card text isn't no-brainer, slam dunk great either. The thing is though, when you combine those 5 red dice with the card text that it starts to make some dollars to you.

First, let me preface the following by saying I don't know that this is an option for just any old ship that can take torps. It's going to work pretty decently on just about any ship with torp tubes, but it definitely works better in some lists than others, so if you're ever on the fence about taking Advanced Torps over regular torps, maybe consider some of the following points for your selection criteria.

I don't find Jeff Foxworthy particularly insightful or hilarious- I'm not mad at the guy, I'm just not a big fan, but his, "... You might be a redneck", bit kinda works here, so I'm going to steal it and adapt it. Don't feel bad for him- he made a ton of dough on that show Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader which subsequently was ripped off from Howard Stern, so it's come-uppance anyway.

If yer runnin' one o' them lists that generates Focus tokens (Katarn, Lando, Dries, etc.) like my dawgs generate hot dog farts, you might want to use Advanced Proton Torpedoes.

I mean look, it makes sense, right? There are only four different results on an Attack die- crit, hit, eyeball, and blank. If you're throwing five dice and turning 3 possible blanks into eyeballs, and you've got Focus tokens flying around your ships willy-nilly, you're very, very likely to hit something very, very hard.

If yer TCB in a BTL listenin' to BTO, you might want to use Advanced Proton Torpedoes.
Having 5 Attack dice at Range 1 isn't all that spectacular in a X-Wing, which of course would normally generate 4 Attack dice at Range 1 anyway, but a Y-Wing? Well, that Y-Wing's only generating 3 Attack dice at Range 1, so this is a fairly significant boost in this context. Dig on the fact that you can roll a Goldie with Advanced Proton Torpedoes for only 24 points. One trick pony? Sure. But you're going to hurt something pretty hard with that one trick. Giddy up.

And yeah, the rednecks where I live most definitely do use the term TCB in casual conversation, but will nearly always explain to you that TCB stands for "Takin' Care of Business" even if they just explained to you what it meant the day previous. BTO is of course Bachman Turner Overdrive who wrote the song, "Takin' Care of Business (who the hell knew they had wireless mics in 1974?)." If I gotta explain to you what a BTL is, you're playing the wrong game. :)

If yer idea of a fun time is runnin' a PS 8 Y-Wing with Yosemite Sam "BACK OFF" mudflaps but no Elite Pilot Skills, you might want to use Advanced Proton Torpedoes.
It's true- you'd have to like run over a gypsy to have bad enough luck to make Advanced Proton Torpedoes not hit with Horton Salm's card text. Dammit- nevermind. :(

Other honorable mentions go to Ibitsam, Krassis Trelix (with Slave I title, of course), and yeah, even Wedge Antilles- dig that Wedge's card text doesn't make any mention of a a primary attack, just an attack, then sick him on a Shuttle. Nastiness right there. Major Rhymer, the hard rhymer, as some of you bikini aficionados pointed out in comments on his preview article makes good use of the Advanced Proton Torpedoes as he increases their range to 2. Any run-of-the-mill Bomber flying alongside Jonas can make good use of them or if you want to be a little stealthy, how about a run-of-the-mill Bomber with Jendon in the ST-321? "Oh, I don't know- I guess... I guess... oh, I guess Scimitar Squadron will just Focus..." Yeah, I guess so- until Jendon throws him a Target Lock and he drops Focused Advanced Proton Torpedoes on some poor sucker, right?

Fab's Squadron Generator Update!

I got an email today from our good pal in France, Fab. 

Hello Clint,

Just to let you know that I updated my generator with new features.

The most important one is on the manual generator where I put a free mode in order to build squadrons with only the rules restrictions.

>> squadrons generator home page : http://fabpsb.free.fr/

I also added the Imperial Aces expansion.

>> manual squadrons generator (free mode) : http://fabpsb.free.f...ndex.php?free=1

>> manual squadrons generator : http://fabpsb.free.fr/mindex.php

>> random squadrons generator : http://fabpsb.free.fr/rindex.php


Right on, Fab! He's even got the Imperial Aces expansions in there! 

If you haven't checked out Fab's builder lately, or if you've not checked it out at all, he really has it set up pretty slick. Box art of all the expansions, card art for all the cards, and even with all that it loads up pretty quickly on my 3G connected Chromebook (I think my Wifi router died, but I can't check it out because it's in the baby's room [previously known as my office] and he's asleep). It's nice. Currently, it's my go-to listbuilder for messing around with build ideas. 

In a related note, you guys may have noticed I've done a little re-organizing of the extreme right sidebar links. Fab's site is on there now, so if you want an easy in to his Squadron Generator (he still has the Random Generator too), click on any of the links above, or hit the link in the right side bar. 

Merci, for the update, Fab! Peace out, man! 

24 September 2013

Secondary Weapon Systems- Blaster Turret

This post regarding Secondary Weapon Systems is part of a larger article regarding Wave 3 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 "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Blaster Turret (4)
Attack Value: 3
Range: 1-2
Card Text: Attack (Focus): Spend 1 focus token to perform this attack against 1 ship (even a ship outside your firing arc).
Usage: It's no secret that I'm not a huge fan of the HWK-290. I'm not trying to be a hater, I'm just still not all that impressed with it. I don't want to get totally sidetracked, so let me just say before you fill the comments for this article with example after example of why the ship isn't that bad, let me head you off at the pass and say that there are some really good combos you can pull off with an HWK-290 I'll be discussing more in the future. For example, Sean used Jan Ors in conjunction with a Chewie Falcon on me a couple of weekends ago and it worked famously.

So again- I know it's super fun to engage in over the top hyperbole on the internet, but let me once again reiterate- I don't hate the HWK-290, I'm just not particularly impressed with it.

I bring all this up because I think we all kind of assumed the Blaster Turret would be the gun that'd balance out that 1 Attack and fairly rotten maneuver dial kinda the way we all worked out that a Y-Wing without an Ion Cannon Turret is a bit triflin' for the same reasons.

We were sort of right.

The knock of course on the Blaster Turret is that you have to burn a Focus token to fire the damn thing. Is that such a big deal? Well, yes and no. Yes because, well, it'd be nice to use that Focus token to modify your Attack roll results instead using it solely to get to roll three dice. Yes also because you (probably) need to have a Perform Action step at your disposal to get that Focus token to fire it and anybody's who's played this game a few times knows that isn't always a luxury at your disposal. No because there are ways of mitigating getting your hands on a Focus token through traditional means.

People inherently want to compare this to the Falcon's turret because they're both Attack 3 turrets. That's a mistake right off the bat because this Blaster Turret is not a Primary Weapon like the Falcon turret which means of course that you never roll the additional die for being at Range 1 because it's a Secondary Weapon System. While that also means the defender doesn't get an additional defense die at Range 3, recall this thing only has a range of 1-2 so that's not going to come up. Again, this isn't to say that it's terrible because of this, but it is something to keep in mind.

With having to burn the Focus token to fire it, you really need to have both a Target Lock and a Focus token, multiple Focus tokens, or some card text that allows you to hit more easily for your Combat Phase to be reliably successful on the attack. You don't have to hear any of that noise of course, but obviously you're going to have much better results if you do, and that's not always something easily done without a HWK carrying a Recon Specialist or some wingmen like Dutch Vander, Lando Calrissian, or Garven Dreis flying along with you. Now, again, if you want to build a list around this idea, by all means knock yourself out- it could be really fun to play and you'd definitely get some style points from me for breaking some new ground and being different, but looking at it in a vacuum, it's not the best setup.

It all boils down to should you take it though, right? Well, as usual, it depends. Only two ships can currently equip a Blaster Turret- the Y-Wing and the HWK-290.

If you're flying a HWK-290, almost certainly, yes- it's worth it. It may be possible to land a hit with only one Attack die HWK, but you're not going to be doing it regularly. Now, I know, I know, you only use your HWK-290 as a support ship. I get it. I still wouldn't leave home without one just like it'd be a rare friggin' occasion you'd catch me fielding a Y-Wing without an Ion Cannon Turret. Not saying I've never done it, but it doesn't happen much. Again- take that for what it's worth. Sean wasn't packing one on Jan and like I said, that was still a very effective combo.

While lots of people, me included, were excited about the notion of throwing this gun on a Y-Wing, after reading the card and thinking about it a lot I feel pretty strongly that the Blaster Turret is made for the HWK-290. So unless you are terrified at the notion of having to keep an enemy ship in your forward arc to roll red dice, or you have an intense love affair with the idea of a Y-Wing with a Blaster Turret, I just don't really see the point. I think the Y-Wing was made to sport an Ion Cannon Turret and that's the best use for the turret mount on that ship. If you're considering the Blaster Turret because you're looking to deal more damage, I'd look at a different ship entirely in that role before I'd seriously consider strapping a Blaster Turret on a Y-Wing.

I really don't like the fact that I can't seem to come up with a good argument for the Blaster Turret, but I've been writing this article for about two hours now and I still just can't really justify it. Am I missing something here? 

23 September 2013

System Upgrade- Sensor Jammer

This post regarding System Upgrades is part of a larger article regarding Wave 3 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 "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Sensor Jammer (4)
Card Text: When defending, you may change 1 of the attacker's <filled explosion symbol) results to a <eyeball symbol> result. The attacker cannot reroll the die with the changed result.
Usage: I was playing a custom scenario that +Sean Hocking wrote last weekend with +Benjamin Coleman. I won't go into details just yet as once we get it totally worked up and playtested we'll throw it up here for y'all to check out, but I was playing Imperials and to round out my point total to 100, naturally I threw in Dark Curse, because much like bacon, Dark Curse goes well with anything, really.

Of course, I've covered him on here before, but to refresh your memory (assuming you didn't already click the link and do just that), Dark Curse is a royal pain in the gluteus maximus, and by gluteus maximus I mean ass, because spending Focus tokens and rerolling attack dice doesn't work on him.

I love this for two reasons- first and the most obvious, it's much harder to kill that guy than it oughta be, and two because that kind of stuff gets in people's head from time to time. If you go after him and fail to ding him, you feel like you wasted that ship's round worth of shooting. Do that more than a time or two, and some folks will feel like they're making a mistake and start second guessing themselves in the other aspects of their game.

That mind power doesn't work on everybody, but it works enough that I like to do it because I'm kind of a dick like that sometimes. And also because since I lose about as much as I win, I do at least like to make the people I'm playing sweat a little bit and feel like I got some kind of small victory even in my defeats.

The reason I bring all this up of course is Sensor Jammer sorta does the same thing. Where Dark Curse basically keeps your opponent from modifying his attack roll, Sensor Jammer does the modifying for him and then some- one of his hits becomes an eyeball that he can't reroll.

Now, don't get mixed up on this- spending a Focus token isn't considered a reroll, so if your attacker spends a Focus token after you've used Sensor Jammer on one of his hit rolls, that die will still end up being a hit, but maybe there's solace to be taken in the fact that he wouldn't have needed to burn the token had you not Jammed him. Ditto for stuff that specifically calls out eyeball results becoming something else like with Proton Torpedoes, for example. It also specifies, "When defending" which to me intimates a defense roll, so it's not going to work on stuff like Seismic Charges or Prox Mines, won't help with collisions when you overlap an obstacle, and some of the cards in the Damage Deck that just hurt you without allowing you to try and roll out of them.

So what does it work on? Well, Target Lock is maybe the most obvious example. If your opponent manages say a single hit result on you which you then change to an eyeball, if he elects to spend a Target Lock to reroll, he has to leave that eyeball on the table. It negates other stuff that allows rerolls to- the card text for Krassis Trelix, Solo, stuff like that. Besides of course just changing a hit to an eyeball, end of story. Don't forget about that.

Ok, so you saw me mention Solo and your keyboard ears perked up and you're all set to tell me that Gunner and/ or Luke Skywalker, Crew Member would still activate which functionally would give you a reroll. You'd be correct, of course. If you fired with a big ship and didn't land a hit against your target after all the modifying, defense rolls, and subsequent cancellations (if any) of hits by Evades, etc., the Gunner/ Luke, CM text would activate and you'd make another Primary Attack. 

However, note that Sensor Jammer is one of these always-on kind of things, so long as you're defending, no Action required or anything, so it's still in play against that second Primary Attack too. Not sayin' that's the greatest thing in the world, but there it is. As you'd expect, it's also kicked on for both salvos of Cluster Missiles.

All that said, is it worth the four points? Well, again as you currently can only stick this on a Shuttle or a B-Wing, both of whom only have 1 Defense die to start with, I think it's a good investment. I mean look, it's not a never fails, bullet-proof vest by any means, but if your game plan relies on one of those ships sticking around for awhile, I think anything that can help with that is a good idea, especially since it's not a one-shot type of thing.

As time goes by, people are going to realize more and more that one Defense die is pretty rotten despite what the Falcon would have you believe and folks will just start pouring fire into the B-Wing and Shuttle to down them, and let's face it- they'll likely have pretty good results. Sean was shocked that I managed to smoke his B-Wing in a single turn of shooting (I pointed out that it was three ships firing on it and one of them had a pretty awesome Proton Torpedo roll). Had he been stocking one of these, now I'm faced with that Dark Curse decision of feeling like I'm wasting shots because he has this defense mechanism. 

Maybe I decide to go after some other ship that's I'm more likely to kill even though the B-Wing is still the bigger threat. Or maybe I go after it with two of those ships, but give up when it's time for the third ship to fire because I'm only rolling a couple of hits which are then getting downgraded into single hits. Who knows? The point I've made on here a bunch of times is that the more you force your opponent out of his usual routine, his comfort zone- the more you actually make him think, the more likely he is to make a mistake. Sensor Jammer has that potential to make folks think, so while it's not cheap, it ought to at least get a walkout sometime in your B-Wing or Shuttle.

B-Wing Horizontal Orientation Conversion

While writing today's article, I got an email from Yeti who runs a blog called Sarcophagi

Dude! Hope you are well. Picked up the new B Wing, chopped it, drilled it, filed it, glued it, flew it. Screw it!

If that's not the coolest thing you've seen all day, then obviously you weren't at home babysitting your two boys all day, only leaving the house for a couple of hours to get the oil changed in your Scion xB. I mean look, the Kun Aguero goal against United is a close second, but that B-Wing mod is even hotter than that. Note he even changed the orientation of the cockpit! That's quality, y'all. 

Interested in how to pull it off yourself? Well, lucky for you our good pal has an in-depth step-by-step tutorial available on his blog so you don't have to make your head hurt figuring it out. 

Thanks again Yeti! Good lookin' out, bro!

20 September 2013

Wave 3- Initial Imperial Impressions

Ok, so I wanted to try out the new Imperial stuff as clinically as I could, and that generally means for me not indulging in the named pilots or a bunch of upgrades and stuff. I also wanted to get all three of my shiny, new Wave 3 Imperial models into the mix ASAP so creating a balls to the wall, super-efficient list wasn't a high priority for me. I didn't want the game to be a cakewalk for my opponent (Sean) by any means, but I wanted to spend some time with the ships in their most basic and generic form so I could see what aspects of them worked and didn't work for me and my own particular playstyle. That in mind, I selected the following as my 100 point dogfight list: 

Krassis Trelix w/ Ion Cannon (39 points)
Omicron Group Pilot (21 points)
Scimitar Squadron Pilot w/ Proton Torpedoes (20 points)
Scimitar Squadron Pilot w/ Cluster Missiles (20 points)

First, I was kind of surprised I could fit both a Firespray and the Shuttle into a 100 point list along with a couple of other ships. Admittedly, I have things pretty stripped down, and there's no Pilot Skill above 5 in the list, but that's a lot of hull and shields between those two ships. 

Sean was running a Chewie Falcon with a bunch of upgrades, a Jan Ors HWK-290, and a Rookie X-Wing, for what it's worth. Like me he wasn't the most competitive list ever, but with that tooled up Falcon, it was no slouch either. 

I was pleasantly surprised with the maneuvers available to the TIE Bombers. I never really found myself spinning the dials desperately looking for a maneuver that would ultimately prove nowhere to be found. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm normally a Rebel player, so I'm maybe biased towards movement options that don't involve the TIE Fighter or TIE Interceptor movement dials. In other words, die-hard Imperial players may hate the TIE Bomber movement dial, but I had no problem with it whatsoever. I even had the opportunity to try out that speed 5 K-Turn a couple of times which actually worked fairly well at bypassing the almost inevitable ship pile-ups to came up.

The Shuttle was quite the opposite to the TIE Bomber. I knew once the point totals starting leaking out that the Shuttle would have a pretty rotten movement dial and I won't lie to you- it's pretty rough. I'd not tooled my Shuttle specifically for long-range duty in this game (and by that I mean I didn't take a range 3 Secondary Weapon System like a Heavy Laser Cannon), so I tried to fly it around a bit and get it into the action. The big base and high attack value helps to mitigate the limited maneuver options, but overall I did find myself looking for more maneuvers and feeling pretty limited as to what I had available. For one, there's just not that many moves on the dial to start with (12 total), and for two, nearly half of them (5) are red. Now, there again- there are ways to mitigate this through both playstyle and upgrades, but just be aware of what you're getting into here. 

As you'd expect, once you've fired off your ordnance loads, the TIE Bomber has the usual drawbacks of the standard TIE with few of the advantages. Of course, the 2 Attack is standard across most TIE variants, and the Bomber is no different in this regard. 

That said, it's kind of not as bad as I thought it might be. For 20 points (again, recall I took the very cheapest TIE Bombers available along with two flavors of the 4 point warheads), you're likely rolling 4 dice at Range 3, then following up with a couple of dice the next turn. That's not terrible for 20 points. I don't know if you guys regularly fly against Chewie Falcons, but in my opinion, they're probably the toughest ship to kill in the game because a Chewie Falcon is effectively all shields and no hull. The only way to take one down is to just pump tons of shots into it (there's a joke about sorority girls I could make there, but I'm going to hold back- you're welcome).

I managed to whittle it down to a single hull point at the very end, while destroying the HWK and taking the shields off the Rookie. I still lost of course, but all in all, I was impressed with the firepower the Bomber brings to the table for a relatively cheap price. I will say, as many pileups as we had, I do wish I'd have found the points for a Seismic Charge or a Proton Bomb. I was never that crazy about using Bombs on a Firespray, but I can completely see their use on a Bomber, especially after they've emptied their tubes. 

The Shuttle stock has an Attack 3, which of course is nothing to disregard especially since the big base makes it so much easier to get into Range 1. Using the Shuttle as I did- to engage rather than hang back and lob shots in, and at such a low Pilot Skill, I really should have looked into an Anti-Pursuit Laser. I think one could get ships to collide into that big base fairly routinely and for only a couple of points, it would have been worth it a time or two in the match. Overall, I don't have any complaints about the Shuttle's guns- stock or available as upgrades. 

Model Quality-
As with the rest of the X-Wing ships, overall quality is good for pre-paints and I was impressed with the details on both ships. The Shuttle seems a little small when you're looking at it in the box with it's wings folded up, but once you get it out on the table with the wings out, you definitely get the idea that it couldn't be any larger and still really work on a big base.

I'm not sure of the reason, be it thick paint, whatever they use to seal these models, warped or flashy parts, but I got pretty nervous trying to fully drop the wings on my shuttle. If you simply must rotate the wings into their movie canon position, be prepared from some cracking and popping sounds. I managed to get mine into position, but I felt like I was going to snap something off the model at any moment. I just tried to be careful and apply even pressure along the length of the plastic on the wing that slots into the body of the hull. Other than that, and now that I've folded and unfolded the wings a few times it's going much more smoothly now, I've got no complaints. It's a nice looking model and while I have no idea about the scale on this one, it fits in nicely on the table with the other big ships (as you can see in the pics).

The Bomber is actually quite a bit bigger than what I expected. Again- I'm not a canon guy to the point where I can tell you how big stuff is supposed to be, but I just kind of assumed the Bomber with its bent solar panels and all, would be about the same size as a double-wide Advanced. It's not- the Bomber is bigger. Not a ton, mind you, but it is bigger, and if you've played with TIE Advanceds much in the past, you'll notice it right off the bat. The Bomber is also that darker, bluish-grey like the Interceptor rather than the lighter grey-white like the TIE Fighters and TIE Advanced. There's a good amount of detailing on the model, and on mine at least, the wash isn't quite so out of control the way it was on some of the Wave 1 and 2 stuff. Maybe I'm just lucky.

The ships are more or less what I expected. The Shuttle's dial is actually tougher to use than I thought it would be. In a list with other ships that can close with the enemy, a Shuttle would do just fine floating about your backline acting like a gunship. I could see it operating in a way similar to those Kath Scarlet/ Trelix lists that were popular for awhile there in Wave 2- stick a Shuttle with an HLC in backl and sick four or five TIE Fighters of various flavors on your opponent and you've got the foundation of a pretty solid list. I'm sure there are other ideas that make better use of the named pilots and various upgrades, but that's the initial reaction I have to seeing the capabilities of the no-name Shuttle. And really, against a decent opponent, it really is fairly balanced points-wise with the awesome guns and high durability balanced out by the limited maneuver dial. If you play against people who won't exploit poor maneuvering, you'll hear cries of undercosted, but against folks who've been playing for awhile, it'll seem pretty balanced for what it is.

The two ideas that occurred to me while using the Bomber were 1) You could make a list of just Bombers and Captain Jonus and it probably wouldn't be terrible against most Rebel lists that include a Falcon, and 2) If you were looking for a newer, fresher take on a TIE Swarm, you could trade out a few of them for Bombers with some warheads to taste and have a pretty nasty little list. And for goodness' sake- don't discount Cluster Missiles. They're great against ships with only 1 Defense- you know, like Falcons. They, much like Proton Torpedoes,  OH MY GOD, I FINALLY GOT YOU, YOU PIECE OF CRAP. Good Lord y'all, I have been flat out accosted by this housefly for like the last 20 minutes I've been editing this article and I just caught that bitch Mr. Miyagi style. Well, I mean, I didn't have chopsticks, but I did grab his ass right out of the air with my hand. Suck on that, fool. Ok, where was I? Oh yeah- Proton Torpedoes got a bad rap in Wave 1 that managed to stick for the most part even after the big ships came out. Now that we have more and varied ships, some of those rarely taken options are becoming more apparent in their use, assuming you can get old prejudices out of your head. Speaking of which, I do fully intend to go back and update those older Wave 1 and Wave 2 listbuilding articles at some point. Who the hell knows when, but I'll do it here at some point. 

While you can, and some certainly will, run multiple Shuttle lists, I could see picking up a third TIE Bomber before a second Shuttle, extra copies of all those cool upgrade cards notwithstanding. I tell ya though, I think a lot of other people have the same idea as some of the big online miniatures retailers are already sold out of the TIE Bombers, so if you're going to grab a couple of extras, assuming your FLGS is already sold out, I'd do it sooner rather than later.

19 September 2013

System Upgrade- Advanced Sensors

This post regarding System Upgrades is part of a larger article regarding Wave 3 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 "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Advanced Sensors (3)
Card Text: Immediately before you reveal your maneuver, you may perform 1 free action. If you use this ability, skip your "Perform Action" step during this round.
Usage: On the surface, this card basically mixes up the order in which you perform the steps in the Activation Phase. I just talked about the Activation Phase a couple of days ago, but since I went to the trouble of pulling and cropping that image from the rulebook which outlines the steps, allow me to throw it out there once again-

All right, so instead of doing the Perform Action step as step 6, you're instead performing a Free Action before you reveal your dial. What's that mean exactly though? 

Well first and foremost, you've already selected your maneuver, but you've not turned over the dial for that ship yet, so higher PS pilots will still be picking their Free Action later in the Activation Phase than the lower PS pilots. Now, the card doesn't explicitly say which step this takes place in. I could see some folks trying to invoke the shenanigans here, but I think the intent here is exactly what it says- "Immediately before you reveal your maneuver..." So we're talking about a brief moment between the end of the Planning Phase and the start of that particular Active ship's Activation Phase or at the end of the previous Active ship's portion of the Activation Phase and the new Active ship's Activation Phase, depending on the PS of the ship bearing the Advanced Sensors card.

Brief sidenote- I can't remember if you're considered to be selecting and subsequently revealing a maneuver if you've been ionized. For some reason I thought it was FAQ'ed that you're not, which would disallow this card's use, but I can't find where I read that right now. I'll look some more and update the post accordingly. 

Anyway, now that we understand the timing of when this happen, let's talk about Free Actions for a moment. The card calls out a Free Action specifically rather than just letting you pull your Perform Action step. Is there anything significant about that? Is there a difference between a Free Action and any other Action you'd normally pick in your Perform Action step? 

A Free Action is defined in the rulebook on page 8 as simply an Action that doesn't count towards the one Action limit in the Perform Action step. Since you're losing the Perform Action step by playing this card, it really is just pretty much you picking your Action much earlier than usual. Any Action normally available to you via the Upgrade Bar, card text, or whatever is available to you as a Free Action. 

The main significance here is that since you're doing it before you move, there's nothing that can stop you from performing your chosen Action. If you realize after you selected your maneuver that you're going to crash into something- your own ships, an opponent's ship, an Obstacle, whatever- no worries, man. You can just Advanced Sensors your way into a Free Action anyway. 

A question that's bound to come up in your games is: can a pilot who is the bearer of a Stress Token still pick an Action via Advanced Sensors? 

Love me or hate me, I'm going to say that a ship with Advanced Sensors who is also Stressed absolutely cannot pick a Free Action. 

While it may be true that the card text states the use of a Free Action as opposed to telling you to do the Perform Action step earlier in the turn, and the Perform Action step is where it says you check to see if you're pilot is Stressed, later on in the rulebook on page 17 under Stress it states the following: 

While a ship has at least one stress token, it cannot execute red maneuvers or perform any actions (even free actions). 

They may FAQ it differently or something down the road, but until then, I'm playing it as it lays in this case (and no, I had no idea it was some 70's book title, I'm referencing the golf origin of the statement). 

Now, that being said- could an unstressed pilot use his Advanced Sensors to get himself an Action before revealing a red maneuver that subsequently invokes a Stress Token? Absolutely. And before anybody gets confused, remember that spending an Action Token when you're Stressed is totally kosher- it's the Perform Action step that you're not allowed to do when you're Stressed. To put it another way, getting the token is the Action, spending it is not. 

Right on, now that we know exactly how this rule works, who does it work for? 

Like we discussed in Fire Control System yesterday, there's really not many ships who can stock System Upgrades right now. In fact, currently, there are only two- the B-Wing and the Shuttle. Also like FCS, it's useful to anybody really- the selection criteria I think has more to do with whether or not you'd rather take one of the other System Upgrades because they're all pretty good for their points. Advanced Sensors is versatile enough one could conceivably use it on the generic, common, no-name pilots, but also on the named and the dotted if you wanted. 

I think generally Advanced Sensors helps a newer player more than an experienced one because he can mitigate losing an Action due to bad or unexpected movements from the other side of the table. I can't really think of another time where I'd just much rather pick an Action earlier in my turn other than I'm going to lose it because of a collision or something. 

I guess you could make a debate for pulling a movement type Action before your actual maneuver as well; Barrel Rolling or Boosting then maneuvering instead of maneuvering then Barrel Rolling or Boosting. I don't know that you'd find yourself in a situation like that often enough to justify the points, but it is a possibility for the B-Wing at least. 

The only other time I can think of right now that it would make a difference would be in the case of Target Locking a ship you're going to move out of range with after you perform your maneuver. Not sure how often that'd come up either, but it's a possibility. 

For the Shuttle, with it's limited maneuver dial and big base, I can see this being a pretty common upgrade just to be sure you're going to end up with your Action even if somebody blocks you or you run into something. That 3 Attack primary hurts bad enough as it is, but if you can pair it up with a Focus or a Target Lock even though you're going to run into somebody? That hurts even better. 

Don't misunderstand me because I'm not making a huge deal out of it towards the end trying to come up with scenarios where Advanced Sensors would be handy and not finding some uber, over the top situation. This really is a pretty powerful card- lots of people, consciously or not, adjust their strategy when they see an enemy ship hit something. If you can still Focus after you've gotten into an accident or pick Evade, that's a pretty big game changer- especially since you can do it every round instead of the Perform Action step if you want. Also, the fact that you can give yourself a token before you pull a K-Turn or other red maneuver is a pretty big deal for either of the ships that can currently take it. It's a big deal for the B-Wing because they have that nifty little Speed 2 K-Turn, but it's maybe an even bigger deal for Shuttle pilots because their dial has so many dang red maneuvers. 

18 September 2013

System Upgrade- Fire Control System

This post regarding System Upgrades is part of a larger article regarding Wave 3 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 "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Fire Control System (2)
Card Text: After you perform an attack, you may acquire a Target Lock on the defender.
Usage: Way back about a year ago, not long after X-Wing was released, my FLGS ran a little tournament. When I say little, I mean little- as in like a 25 point tournament. I think four of us turned up to play. One guy ran two TIEs (he won), one guy ran an Red Squadron X-Wing with I think it was an R2 Astromech, another dude ran a Rookie X-Wing with R2-D2, I ran a Tempest Squadron TIE Advanced with Clusters, I think it was. I came in second- that dude with the two TIEs had one hull point left when he offed my Advanced. That was my first really competitive game of X-Wing.

In the second or third match, against one of the X-Wing players, I suddenly made the realization that if you had an existing Target Lock, you could actually Focus and Target Lock the same attack roll. This was like a light bulb going on over my head. Until then, I'd played a handful of lunch hour games against a friend of mine named Dwain and we'd always had such a hard time actually shooting each other down, until I figured out the friggin' Rosetta Stone of attacking in X-Wing- the Focused Target Lock.

When I first saw the Fire Control System card leaked, it took me back to those halcyon days (WTF is halcyon anyway? I just looked it up- turns out it's an adjective meaning prosperous or golden, as a noun is some kind of bird. I always thought it was an 80's anti-depressant or something) of Wave 1 when Focusing a Target Locked attack from an X-Wing was just about the nastiest shot you could take in the game. Except of course Focusing a Target Locked attack from an X-Wing at Range 1.

So at a glance, this card lets you maintain an eternal Target Lock until the target dies or you do, basically. Use a Target Lock, get it back- that's how I've seen people describe this card. That's not incorrect, but it's not 100% accurate either. Reading the card text closely, we see that it makes no mention of renewing a spent Target Lock- no, it just says that after you perform an attack, you may acquire a Target Lock on the defender.

See the difference there?

This proper interpretation actually makes this card quite a bit more useful. First, note that all you have to do is attack somebody to get a Target Lock on them. You don't have to hit, you don't have to damage, you only have to attack. That's it. Think about that for a moment and realize that if you play your cards right, you kind of don't ever actually have to declare Target Lock as your Action if you take this System Upgrade- you can always Focus and aside from the very first time you shoot at somebody, you'll have Target Locks from then on out until they're dust or you are. Why's that so significant? Well, you can be taking some other Action in the meantime. So you're not quite as cool as Darth Vader, but you do sort of end up with two Actions with a little pre-planning while realizing that one of those Actions will always be a Target Lock.

The other thing that makes this card super nice is the fact that you're acquiring a Target Lock outside of the Perform Action step in the Activation Phase. You know how I always go on about how awesome it is to do damage to somebody outside of the Combat Phase? Well, this is kinda the same thing. Main takeaway here is you can lose your Perform Action step (for example, you've Stressed yourself by pulling a red maneuver or have collided with another ship) and still generate yourself a Target Lock. Can you use it the same round? No, but prior to this card entering the game, it was pretty difficult to get yourself a Focused Target Lock the round following a K-Turn. Now it's more predictable.

Being as how it's relatively rare for ships in X-Wing to one-shot anybody, having a Target Lock pop right back onto a victim after an attack is pretty handy because it's probably going to take you two or three rounds of shooting to punch their ticket anyway, right? When you factor in that the card is only 2 points, you really have to stop and ask, "What's not to like?"

Truthfully, not much, but you are eating up one of the Advanced System slots. These are somewhat rare in the game right now as only two ships can stock Advanced System upgrades- the Shuttle and the B-Wing, so the question becomes more is this the best option for me when it comes to Advanced Systems?

Well, as usual, it all depends on what exactly you're trying to accomplish. It depends on what role you want that particular ship to play. If being offensively focused benefits you, then yeah, Fire Control System is probably what you're looking for. If you want to be able to switch up when Actions occur or you want some extra defense, then you'd probably be better served with Advanced Sensors or Sensor Jammer, respectively. That said, FCS is the cheapest of the System Upgrades, and for only 2 points, it really is kind of difficult to dismiss.

Of the available B-Wing pilots, I think FCS might be best used on some no-name guys rather than Ibtisam or Ten Numb. This isn't to say that FCS is a waste on those two, but they both kind of already have some similar offensive benefits because of their card text, so it seems like maybe you'd be better served with one of the other two System Upgrades instead of FCS.

Regarding the Shuttle? This card works especially well with two of the three named pilots. Yorr can give himself a TL on somebody even if he has Stress, Jendon can use this non-Action Target Lock as the giveaway while generating a more versatile Focus token. Again- the question boils down to, "Is this the System Upgrade you're going with?", more than anything else. If you've got the points, the Shuttle might be better served with a Sensor Jammer instead of a Fire Control System. Like I said though, it really depends on the role for the ship and your own personal preference.

Daily Traffic Record Set- 17 Sept. 13

Previously, the best single day for traffic (in other words, pageviews) was the day that FFG revealed what the Wave 3 ships would be back there in early May. The actual number escapes me, but it was somewhere right around 3,720. Like maybe 3,727 or something like that. It should be completely obvious to most of y'all why a number like 3,720 would stick in my head. 

In any case, that record fell today with the daily pageviews getting just over 3,800. Pretty cool, huh? 

Thanks for coming back after my time away from the site, thanks for telling your friends to check it out, thanks for talking it up on message boards, your own blogs, and the like. You guys are the best! 


17 September 2013

Secondary Weapon Systems- Autoblaster

This post regarding Elite Pilot Skills is part of a larger article regarding Wave 3 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 "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Autoblaster (5)
Attack Value: 3
Range: 1
Card Text: Your <filled explosion symbol> results cannot be cancelled by defense dice. The defender may cancel <unfilled explosion symbol> results before <filled explosion symbol> results.
Usage: Playing my first game last weekend after a rather lengthy layoff from X-Wing, I found myself a bit rusty at the old spatial thinking when it came to templates. Now, I was never a surgeon with the templates to begin with, but I'd at least gotten to the point where I wasn't high-fiving myself for not hitting a single asteroid after a match. Last weekend I bonked a couple of asteroids and a couple of ships, the former being an accident, the latter? Not quite as much, but still, the result was the same- loss of the Perform Action step which left me making unmodified Attack rolls more than I cared to.

Trademark digressions as article intros aside, the first thing I love about Autoblaster is it's a buffed attack that doesn't rely on an Action. This isn't to say that it doesn't work even better with an Action like Target Lock or Focus, but if for some reason you don't have one available at the moment because of a collision or a Stress Token or whatever, you're not completely naked when you go to throw those dice which is great when you don't have an Action Token because the poop hit the fan. Er, because your ship hit a rock. Whatever.

Secondly, as it's got the "Attack: Attack a single ship" bit in the card text, it's just a Secondary Weapon System (a Cannon, by the icon or as I like to call them, Funky Rayguns), so you can put it on even no-name, generic pilot ships unlike Elite Pilot Talents (the other way you usually end up with abilities that aren't entirely Action dependent outside of named pilot card text) so long as it has the right icon in the upgrade bar.

Third, this is one of those Attacking options on the short list of cards that do manage to give you some sort of bonus when going after Dark Curse.

Right on- so that all sounds pretty cool, but is it worth 5 points? Let me try to think of some downsides here.

First thing that comes to mind is the way the card is worded: Your <filled explosion symbol> results cannot be cancelled by defense dice. So that means while a wavy arrow Evade result on your buddy's green roll doesn't work against an Autoblaster hit, an Evade Token certainly seems to. What about a Focus Token and some green eyeballs? Those don't work against hits from an Autoblaster as they'd simply end up being wavy arrows if your target played the token.

Second thing of course is the bit about being able to cancel the crits you've rolled against your target. That kinda stinks.

So we've got a couple of votes for and a couple of votes against- what's the final verdict?

I think it's a good upgrade right now despite the cost because not many people choose Evade as an Action. Your meta may vary, but I've seen messageboard threads dedicated to turning prospective players off to the idea of declaring an Evade Action in virtually any situation, so I'm pretty comfortable making that blanket statement

Now, I know you're thinking, "Well, so what? A player can choose or choose not to Evade contextually if there's an Autoblaster roaming around.", And you'd be right of course. The thing is though, most folks aren't going to do that repeatedly in a match. If you were to float a ship bearing an Autoblaster up into range of two or three different ships with Evade as a potential Action, the player is unlikely to declare Evade with all three of those ships and go into the Combat Phase with unmodified Attack rolls. He might, sure- maybe he's got a lot of hull and or shields or maybe he has named pilots with card text that mitigates not having an Attack-oriented Action, but maybe he doesn't. This is of course, assuming he even is flying a list with access to an Evade Token at all- a Firespray or Shuttle sporting an Autoblaster against a Rebel list may not even have to worry about this, and even if they do have a Falcon title or an A-Wing, well, so what? You're still keeping them from Focusing, Target Locking, Marksmanshiping, or whatever, or well... they decide not to worry about it and they take a chance you're dinging them up better than usual.

So what ships does Autoblaster seem to work particularly well on?

Well first, what ships even have the option to take it? Prior to Wave 3 there was exactly one ship that could take funky raygun weapons- the Firespray. Post Wave 3 release, we've also got the B-Wing and the Imperial Shuttle.

You can put it on the Shuttle, but personally, I think the dial on a Shuttle is way too restrictive to fly it into short range combat, which of course is where the Autoblaster has to be used. You could use it on somebody that tries to come get you, but at this point, all signs seem to point to the Shuttle being a long-range support gunship, and as it only has one funky raygun icon, I think you're better served rolling an Ion Cannon or Heavy Laser Cannon if anything, and if you're that worried about somebody coming after you on the backline, consider an Anti-Pursuit Laser and just make like that boat in Ben Hur.

The B-Wing is more maneuverable and I think a case could be made for stocking an Autoblaster on a B-Wing you intend to get into the mix a bit, especially if you're decently handy with maneuvering and Barrel Rolling. It'd work especially well on Ten Numb, his card text stating that one crit can't be cancelled and it being fairly unlikely you'd roll more than one on three dice anyway. That said, for the extra LOLs, you could always roll him with an Autoblaster and Marksmanship and while you'd kinda be putting all your eggs in one basket points-wise (39 if my math's right), it's a basket that hits like a brick to the face, yo.

On a Firespray, I think is where most folks can get a lot of good use out of this card. While Kath Scarlet is the pilot who immediately springs to mind because of her crit-cancelling shenanigans, I like the Autoblaster on Krassis Trelix too as he allows you to reroll an Attack die on Secondaries for free just because of his card text leaving you contextually able to defensive Focus or Evade with your Action to help him survive close combat. It works decently well on Fett too as you can use his card text to position yourself in the thick of things so long as you pick banks.

16 September 2013

Imperial Aces Expansion Announced!

Got a couple of messages today from eagle-eyed bikini aficionados BC and Fab pointing out a new entry on FFG's news page- 

Pretty sweet, huh? So what's the lowdown? Here's info from the article on the FFG site- 

Imperial Aces features two TIE interceptor miniatures with alternate paint schemes, several highly skilled new pilots, a dozen upgrade cards, and all the tokens and maneuver dials you need to field these ships. It also includes a new mission that allows the Empire to utilize new, experimental technology in a high-intensity clash with Rebel pilots.

Lest you think this is just some alternate paint job cash-in, dig on the fact there are new cards in this expansion too! 

That's some nasty card text right there, y 'all. Wow.

A 22-point Interceptor with an Elite Pilot Skill slot? Sure, why not? Sign me up! Note also that this card is not a "dotted" card!

Ok, kinda limited in it's application, but I get it. 

Now, this is interesting... Stick this on a Chewie Falcon and make it even more durable...

Thank God they threw the word "different" on there or we'd be seeing  a whole lot of 2 Shield TIE Interceptors! Still brutally nasty though considering they all already have the Boost Action stock anyway. 

Cool stuff, no? No idea when it'll actually drop (site says 4th quarter 2013), but exciting nonetheless!

+Michael Anderson pointed out I totally whiffed a couple more cards linked in that article. Good eye, Mike!

I'd like this card a lot more if it were a Modification instead of an Elite Pilot Skill. That isn't to say it doesn't still have its uses, but it'll be much easier to get off reliably on a lower Pilot Skill ship than a higher one. Still though, if you play with guys who bonk into stuff a lot, and therefore are unlikely to have Evades or Focuses due to lost Perform Action steps, this thing can really ruin somebody's day and fast. 

This is an interesting card because usually Focus is the bet-hedging Action of choice. Taking an Evade and turning it directly into a hit at 2-3 is pretty awesome especially against folks who usually spread out their ships in a split deployment kind of setup. Hey wait- I'm one of those kinds of people!

That said, bear in mind that unless you've got that Targeting Computer mod attached, the decision maybe isn't as cut and dried as it appears at first glance- you're actually faced with a rather tough decision; take the Evade Action then apply an extra hit (or use it on defense as per usual) or be a traditionalist and take Focus and turn any of your eyeball results to hits (or use it on defense). Somebody smarter than me can do the math on this one and let me know what's up.