11 October 2013

Crew Members- Flight Instructor

This post regarding Crew Members 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.

Flight Instructor (4)
Card Text: When defending, you may reroll 1 of your <eyeball> results. If the attacker's pilot skill value is 2 or lower, you may reroll 1 of your blank results instead.

Usage in game: Defensive boost
Action?: No
Breakdown: Sometimes when I start writing these breakdowns of the cards in X-Wing Miniatures, I find at first I'm all kind of like, "I really don't see the point in this." Then maybe halfway through writing the article, I realize some subtle rule interaction that's pretty sweet, and the switch clicks, the lightbulb goes on over my head, and I'm all, "Ooooooohhhh." At which point entire paragraphs get re-written or outright deleted and the entire tone of the article changes from a sort of questioning, slightly suspicious point of view to a more confident, assured view that more effectively realizes (what I hope is) the intended use of the card.

I'm not sure how this article is going to turn out yet.

Look- there is a benefit to Flight Instructor; I'm not saying there isn't. But for four points? Holy mackerel. Let's take a closer look at this thing and maybe I'll figure out where I'm losing the plot.

Right on. So first things first, let's break out our green dice shall we, snatch one up, and take a closer look at him. Of the eight sides, we see that there are three wavy arrows, two eyeballs, and the remaining three are blanks. Again, I'm no math major, but even I can tell you that based on that, you've got a 37.5% chance of throwing a blank, the same for a wavy arrow, and a 25% chance of throwing an eyeball at any given time.

With that in mind, let's see what we're getting for Flight Instructor's 4(!) points.

Ostensibly, we gotta assume you're trying to throw a wavy arrow here, so 37.5% of the time you're going to be happy right off the bat, or to put it another way, about 62.5% of the time, you ain't gonna be happy if you don't have Flight Instructor along for the ride.

Couple that fact up with the knowledge that there are four ships currently that can utilize Crew Members- the Firespray, the YT-1300, the Lambda Shuttle, and the HWK-290. Two of those ships have a Defend of 1, two have a defend of 2. The conservative minis gamer part of my brain says, "Well, why not try and maximize those ships with just 1 die of Defense, because they both have two Crew Member icons anyway, right (convenient, ain't it)?

Well, maybe.

The fly in the ointment here is that this isn't some Luke Skywalker, X-Wing Pilot pseudo-Focus, this is just a re-roll, so there's not a guarantee if you're not happy with that first roll that you'll be happy with the re-roll. Now, is it more likely to happen rolling then re-rolling than just rolling cold? Sure. Is it worth it enough to be worth 4 points and a crew slot which might be better spent elsewhere? Well, that's the question.

Ok, the bummer is those two ships with 1 Crew Member slot could make better use of this card because they're throwing down two Defend dice, and therefore have twice as many chances of rolling eyeballs. But do you want to give up the one Crew chair to do that?

In the HWK-290, almost certainly not. I think overall your strategy there is to not spend a ton of points on the ship. Ideally, you make your opponent decide between going after more dangerous and expensive targets or a cheap, supporting ship that kind of isn't worth shooting down for the points, only to cease some card text benefit. If you put too many points into the HWK, it becomes desirable to blast out of the firmament for two reasons, which is just one too many for a ship with that maneuver dial. Not to mention there are better ways to keep that ship alive than Flight Instructor for the same points (hello Chewbacca, Crew Member).

The Firespray I think is a possibility here, but the same question has to be asked- would you be better served with a Mercenary Copilot, Recon Specialist, Vader, Crew Member, or Weapons Engineer sitting in that single passenger seat? Again, if this thing was a slam dunk that let you turn eyeballs to wavy arrows- hells yeah, it would be. As it stands though?

The 1 Defend die ships, the YT and the Lambda, its easier to make a case for Flight Instructor because you still have that other chair to put somebody else in, but also turns down the possible effectiveness as you're only potentially rerolling one die.

The YT, like the HWK, has more surefire options like Chewie, Crew Member or even a Shield Upgrade, but really it boils down to how defensive you think you need to be and whether or not you need those 4 points elsewhere in your list- obviously the Shield Upgrade isn't mutually exclusive with the Flight Instructor, so if you wanted to go a little overboard on your YT because your opponent is just hammering it every time you drop it on the table, you could use it to go a little overboard on defense. And really, with that much hull and shields, you're going to get at least half a dozen chances at using Flight Instructor, so it's bound to help you out once or twice, right?

The Lambda has more or less the same story, but without Chewie of course. I'm still not 100% convinced it's worth the points, but of the ships that can utilize it, I think it's the ship that likely could justify the cost the most with it's piss-poor maneuver dial and 1 Defend die. There again, even with a bunch of ships shooting at it, your hull and shields are going to give you the opportunity to use FI several times, and it's bound to work once or twice for you before the bitter end.

So here's the part where I stop and ask, "What am I missing?"

The second part of Flight Instructor's card text reads, "If the attacker's pilot skill value is 2 or lower, you may reroll 1 of your blank results instead." Basically, that means if I have a Focus Token and the guy shooting at me is PS 1 or 2, then I'm very likely to end up with a wavy arrow one way or another, right? That's pretty cool, right?

Yeah, but here again- don't get too excited over this. First, it only works against the lowest PS pilots in the game. Secondly, even then, it's still not a 100% guarantee. Back to kinda not feeling this card for the points? Yeah, me too.

Against a traditional, low-PS, high ship-count TIE Swarm? This card's likely worth it's weight in gold. That's kinda the problem though, isn't it? The card's neutral but trends toward Imperials if you ask me as the Rebels have better options for the points, but it's most effective against Imperials. Which, yeah, I know- at tourneys and stuff Imps play against Imps all the time, but I think most of us probably play Rebels vs Imperials, right?

I guess maybe the subtle use for FI that occurs to me is that it does sort of free you up to use that Focus token on offense instead of considering holding onto it for defense. I mean, it doesn't dovetail with a Focus token in the slightest, so if you hang on to your Focus for defense while flying with FI in the copilot chair, you're basically wasting either the token or the points. Sometimes that kind of thing is out of your control (you roll all hits/ crits in the Attack phase, etc.), but usually it's not, and maybe knowing that it's kinda pointless on defense pushes you towards going for the gusto and declaring a Target Lock instead to begin with.

I don't know y'all- I'll fully admit, this is another one of those few and far between cards where I'm going, "There must be something I'm missing here", but I'm at the end of the article and have spent over an hour trying to figure it out and I'm still coming up snake eyes. Where I'm worried that when I post this article somebody is going to get on the comments and say, "Uh, hello? Here's the like super-obvious and awesome use for this card, dude- it's blah, blah, blah." And I'll be frantically trying to rewrite before my bosses notice I'm working on my website instead of, you know, work and stuff.