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.

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