14 October 2013

Crew Members- Intelligence Agent

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.

Intelligence Agent (1)
Card Text: At the start of the Activation phase, choose 1 enemy ship at range 1-2. You may look at that ship's chosen maneuver.

Usage in game: I see London, I see France...
Action?: No
Breakdown: All right, let's just get this out of the way right off the bat here- when exactly does this card go off? That's what you're thinking, it's what I'm thinking, it's what dogs are thinking, right?

When does this card happen?

Namely- do I get to look at your maneuver before or after I pick mine? 

If you think about it for a moment, you probably already know the answer.

Since everybody effectively picks their maneuvers at the same time (the Planning phase), there's not really any way that Guy B could see Guy A's maneuver and be able to do anything about it without some kind of card text that actually alters when Guy B picks his maneuver.

This card has no such verbiage, so there's your answer right there.

To confirm, bust out your rulebooks and check out pages 6 and 7. Page 6 is all about the Planning phase, which is when you pick maneuvers for each of your ships. After everybody's assigned a move to their ships, then the Planning phase ends and the Activation phase begins.

So, yeah. Long story long, you don't get to look at your buddy's maneuver dial before you pick your own maneuvers. I know- bummer right?

It's not all bad news though, while Intelligence Agent isn't quite as awesome as you'd maybe hoped, let's take off our disappointed looks and see if we can think of some ways to make this card text worthwhile.

First, realize that Intelligence Agent doesn't happen as the result of any particular game event other than the start of the Activation phase and affects any enemy ship within Range 1-2 of the ship with the IA on board. Reason I mention this is you don't have to wait until the ship with IA activates or makes it's maneuver or whatever.

Example- you got Han on the board with an IA along for the ride. Even though Han's going to be moving and declaring an Action very late in the Activation phase (if not dead last), you get to use IA at the start of the Activation phase. The point here is that while the ship carrying the IA may maneuver after the ships around it, the rest of your squadron can benefit before any of that from the IA reveal.

Secondly, while nobody can outright change a chosen maneuver, there are a couple of cards in X-Wing Miniatures that do allow you to alter it. Boba Fett can change his chosen bank maneuver from left to right while keeping the same speed and number rating, and while I haven't talked about it on here yet, the Navigator Crew Member upgrade bestows the ability to any ship carrying him in that you can choose to change to a different maneuver with the same bearing.

Another group I can think of that would benefit from advance notice of another ship's maneuver is anyone who can make some sort of maneuver in the Action phase- namely ships with Barrel Roll or Boost, but also those brave souls who have figured out how to make Daredevil worthwhile in their arsenals. I guess if you had Advanced Sensors but were on the fence about using it or not, Intelligence Agent could help you with the decision.

Past all of that, it's help in the more obvious ways- ships with both Focus and Evade as Actions have an easier time choosing which to pick if they Activate before the ship with the revealed dial, some guesses can be made as to your opponent's overall gameplan for that particular turn, and stuff like that.

As you'd expect Fett and somebody carrying the Navigator Crew Member sort of make this card much less effective if they're the guys you're trying to use it on as their revealed maneuver may or may not be the maneuver they end up selecting. Also, anybody who can Boost or Barrel Roll still have some wiggle room in where they end up in relation to their chosen maneuver, so be careful when you use this card- it doesn't make you Carnac in all situations. Shimshalabim, and all that.

Is it right for you compared to some of the other single point upgrades out there? As always, it depends. I think the majority of players probably won't get a ton of use out of this card, but your opponent will likely hate the idea of it- especially if you really do manage to burn him once or twice with it, even lightly. I'd suggest sticking it in a HWK-290 with not much else in the way of upgrades and stuff- use it to force your opponent into either going after a ship that isn't worth many points or ignore it and let it keep on revealing his maneuvers early, or if you've got a two-seater that usually has the second seat empty, try throwing an Intelligence Agent in there for a few games and see if it helps you out in your own particular local meta. For just a single point and no Action required you really can't go too wrong here.