Attack Value: N/A
Card Text: When you reveal your maneuver dial, you may discard this card to drop 1 proton bomb token. This token detonates at the end of the Activation phase.
Usage: If you've been playing X-Wing Miniatures for awhile (read: since Wave 2) and you already have a firm and hearty grasp on how Bombs work, then by all means, skip down a few paragraphs. For those of y'all who just started playing recently, never made extensive use of Bombs in the past, or have forgotten how exactly they work, please continue on.
Bombs are misunderstood by a lot of folks because the rules for them are sort of spread out across two or three different cards. That's kinda unusual in this game, so don't get too pissy about it if somebody's not totally comfortable with the rules the first few times they run or run into bombs. The good news is though the rules for Bombs are fairly straightforward once you get all the cards out in front of you. For the most part anyway.
Ok, so just like Seismic Charges and Proximity Mines back in the day, Proton Bombs are not technically Secondary Weapon Systems. I had to group them somewhere, so this is where I've done it, but make no mistake- Bombs do not meet the criteria of a Secondary Weapon; they do not say, "ATTACK: blah, blah, blah", so they're not.
Right on, now that we have that straight, there's two things to concern yourself when using a Bomb- Proton or otherwise: how it deploys, how it explodes, what happens when it explodes. Ok, that's three things. Nevermind about the two business- there's three things you need to concern yourself with.
First, Proton Bombs deploy with the same verbiage as the Seismic Charges. This means that before you even reveal your maneuver dial for the turn, you can drop this dude. To drop it, you place the 1 Straight template behind your ship, align the guides, and place the token. Since it's just like Seismic Charges and I'm lazy, I'm going to recycle the pic rather than make a new one with the Proton Bomb token. Same thing though. Same Bomb, different day, amirite?
So after you drop the token, you reveal your maneuver dial and everything continues on as normal- i.e. you move your ship, hit your Perform Action step if you've not done anything to screw yourself out of it, etc. Dropping a Bomb isn't an Action unless the card specifically says it's an Action (it's not for Proton Bomb).
It's also not an Attack, as again, Bombs aren't actually Secondary Weapon Systems, so you're perfectly free to drop your bomb, reveal a K-Turn, then shoot the poor sucker that was caught in the blast radius.
Before I get too far ahead of myself here, second point being how the Proton Bomb is triggered, the card says it detonates at the end of the Activation Phase. Long time readers of TMB will know what's coming next- I love cards that deal damage outside of the combat phase (where of course, damage is usually dealt).
I also love this card because since it isn't an Attack and it doesn't happen in the Combat Phase, your victim not only takes damage in the Movement Phase, but they also take damage that is very rarely (Falcon pilot Chewie only? I think that's right) mitigated. The target can't try and roll their way out of the damage, and card texts that help to mitigate/ modify Attack roles don't work here.
The third point about Proton Bombs concerns what exactly happens when it goes off. Again, kinda like Seismic Charges, but where SC did one damage automatically, Proton Bombs does one face up damage card automatically. Yeah- in the local parlance, you attach a crit to anyone and everyone caught up in the blast radius. Cool, huh?
What is the blast radius by the way? If you said Range 1 in all directions, you said it right!
Now, I only used the Seismic Charges and Proximity Mines a handful of times with Slave I, but with the Bomber I could see using them much more often. It wouldn't exactly be what you'd call cheap, but having a low Pilot Skill TIE Bomber kitted with a missile or torpedo and a Proton Bomb (or for that matter, either of the other two as well) is effective and scary for longer than a TIE Bomber just carrying the ballistic warhead, but it's still cheaper than a Firespray.
You'll notice I said a low PS Bomber- main reason I say that is just to keep the overall cost down. There are definitely debates to be made for Proton Bombs on high Pilot Skill pilots as well. Recall that the card text says the Proton Bomb goes off at the end of the Activation Phase, then also recall that if you're going to drop the PB, you have to do it before you reveal your maneuver. If you're confident some folks are going to come crashing into you, but then at the last moment it turns out they don't, you don't have to use the Bomb.
This is much easier to do with a pilot going later in the turn than with a low-PS pilot going early, so TL;DR version- this upgrade works on either low or high skill pilots, but for two different reasons- high because it's easier to guess when to drop the bomb, low because you're moving earlier and your opponent may "waste" an Action Boosting or Barrel Rolling away from your bomb. It may not hurt them, but if you cheat them out of a Focus when they're going to be staring down the business end of your guns, it may have a similar overall effect.
I mentioned in my initial impressions article that I wished I'd have found points for a bomb because Sean and I ended up in a bit of a knot in the middle of the table- I still really like that idea. Dig the following list I just made up off the top of my head-
With those threatening Bombs and a couple of TIE pilots who benefit from being close or being outside of enemy firing arcs, with a little practice and planning, you can really make life tough for your opponent with a list like that.