23 October 2013

Crew Members- Rebel Captive

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.

Rebel Captive (3)
Card Text: Galactic Empire Only Once per round, the first ship that declares you as the target of an attack immediately receives one stress token.

Usage in game: I can't believe you f@#kin' shot me, Harley.
Action?: No
Breakdown: I'm no games design guru by any stretch of the imagination. Hell, I'm not even a student of game design theory. I do like to troubleshoot though. I like trying to find patterns in seemingly random events (which makes me more than a touch paranoid at times) and understanding how things work. Had I been blessed with a bit more self discipline at a younger age, I might have tried to develop this interest into troubleshooting people as a psychologist instead of troubleshooting industrial equipment and processes, but I wasn't so I didn't, which is neither here nor there really, come to think of it.

That in mind, I do like to try to figure out why games designers create the rules and stuff they create in the games I play.

I don't know how many of y'all play Android: Netrunner, but one of the most fascinating things about that game to me is there are so many different strategies you can employ to try to win the game. I haven't played in awhile, but I used to run an NBN deck that, true to form, tried to do little else but Tag you up but good. Now, Tagging somebody alone doesn't really do much of anything, but coupled up with other cards, it can have some pretty significantly nasty effects. Basically, my line of thinking was that if you were spending all your clicks and credits buying off tags in fear of me dropping a Scorched Earth on your head or whatever, I might win regardless of whether or not I ever actually managed to get Scored Earth in my hand, er, my HQ, because you're wasting said clicks and credits on my tags rather than your cards.

Rebel Captive is interesting to me for kinda the same reason.

I've talked about Stress a lot on here in different articles, and much like a Tag in Netrunner, being Stressed in and of itself isn't really that big of a deal. You pull a green maneuver as soon as the opportunity presents itself and you're in good shape again. Captive says if somebody attacks you, again- we're not talking about somebody hits you or somebody damages you- just attacks you, they get a Stress Token for their trouble.

Not a big deal by itself, right? The attacker would get a Stress Token at a time when it pretty much couldn't matter less- the Combat Phase. They're going to likely have a chance to pull a green in their next Movement Phase, so you're not directly doing anything to them, really as it isn't like you roll less Attack or Defend dice because you're Stressed or whatever.

However, it can be the start of something bigger.

I've mentioned before on here that the best use of an Ion Weapon is on a ship with a Stress Token. The reason being? Ionized ships (unless they have R2 Astromech or Nien Nunb with them) have to do a 1 straight in their next Movement Phase which counts as a white maneuver. Since a white maneuver doesn't rid a ship of a Stress Token, that same ship doesn't get to pull their Perform Action step in the Activation Phase, which cheats them out of an Action, and as everyone knows, ships without Actions tend to get dealt with, and by dealt with I mean dealt wit.

That used to be somewhat difficult to set up against the average player as you were more or less relying on them to Stress one of their own ships because Kath Scarlet was just about the only mechanic for Stressing somebody on the other side of the table without their consent. Now though, Rebel Captive adds a couple more ways.

So who do you stick him on? Well, he's a Crew Member, so it's gotta be a big ship. Secondly, he's Empire only, so we're down to a Firespray or a Shuttle.

Where it gets kinda tricky is this- you need him on a ship dangerous enough to make your opponent want to fire on it. It's gotta be dangerous enough that he's willing to accept the Stress Token as a trade-off for trying to get that ship off the board. Otherwise he'll just ignore the ship until it's the last one left on your side and probably not care much about the Stress when he does finally attack you.

Secondly, it's gotta be hearty enough to uh, well, not get taken off the board. As the Firespray and Shuttle are both fairly beefy ships to begin with, this isn't so hard, but you ought to look into some other upgrade that helps to reduce damage, damage effects, or raise your Defense value one way or another. You want them attacking you, yes- what you don't want is them massing firepower and turning you into dust or sticking you with some hideous face-up damage card in just a turn or two of shooting.

Lastly, you gotta have an Ion Weapon floating around in there somewhere so you can really make some hay when the sun shines and he's getting Stress Tokens for daring to attack your ship.

To give examples of ship, pilot, upgrade, and playstyle/ combat role combinations that maximize the ability of Rebel Captive would be kinda exhaustive, and as I'm already kinda exhausted, I'll trust that you guys that are interested in making this combo will figure it out for yourselves based on the above blueprint. There are a bunch of different ways you could make this work theoretically, but they'll all likely involve you and your meta more than anything, so your mileage is very much going to vary. 

Off the top of my head, a list that includes a Kagi Shuttle with a Rebel Captive and a cheap Ion Cannon Firespray following closely seems like a good core to a list that could cause a lot of Rebel lists problems for several reasons. Or, if you wanted to save some points for a small wing of escort TIE Fighters, you could make that trailing Firespray an Ion Cannon packing Shuttle. If you have trouble flying Shuttles effectively like I do, consider sticking Anti-Pursuit Lasers on them, or just punt altogether and stick Rebel Captive in an Ion Firespray flown by Trelix and fly it next to Kath Scarlet also packing an Ion Cannon. See what I mean? There's a ton of possibilities here.

As for flying against a ship carrying a Rebel Captive? Pick your lamest ship that can legitimately attack and do it. Do you have a HWK-290 you're flying solely for support? There's your huckleberry right there- especially if it is at a higher Pilot Skill than the rest of your squadron because only the first ship to attack the bearer of Rebel Captive gets the Stress Token- not everybody who attacks. Jan Ors is seemingly tailor made for this kind of application.

Barring that, choose your attack ship carefully and try to find the one with a bunch of green maneuvers so you don't paint yourself into a corner getting rid of the token- A-Wings, YT-1300s with Nien Nunb, X-Wings or Y-Wings with R2 Astros, etc. Heck, the possibility of your opponent using Rebel Captive might just justify always including an R2 Astromech in one of those Rookie X-Wings you're always taking, Initiative be damned. Don't directly help if you're Stressed and Ionized both, of course, but for shedding Stress, any of those ships will do.

Is Rebel Captive for you? Well, again- it depends a lot on you and your opponents. If you're good enough to really make a guy pay for having a Stress Token- e.g. you are good at figuring out your opponent's maneuvers, you regularly run Ion Weapons, or your buddy relies heavily on K-Turns rather than effective maneuvering or is kinda bad at target priority, Rebel Captive will likely be totally worth the three points. 

If not, maybe not so much. 

Don't discredit the psychological effect though- somebody said in the comments on an article a week or two ago that running Fett with Navigator is nice for a lot of reasons, one of which he cuts down on the brain clutter you invoke trying to keep everybody's moves straight in your head during the Planning Phase. Rebel Captive can work against that and increase that clutter, so before you pass judgement on whether or not the card actually helped you win your match, keep in mind this card's effects may be much more subtle than you might observe if your opponent is flying differently the entire time trying to avoid the ship with RC on board.

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