11 November 2013

Crew Members- Recon Specialist

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.

Recon Specialist (3)
Card Text: When you perform a Focus Action, assign 1 additional Focus token to your ship.

Usage in game: Maintaining your Focus, excuse for singing the old Doublemint gum ad (but please, substitute the word focus for pleasure), even considering taking a Blaster Turret on a HWK-290.
Action?: No
Breakdown: This is one of those cards I kind of don't like talking about because pretty much everyone already knows the score. I feel like most of y'all come by the bar because of 1) Insightful or innovative uses of the cards, 2) You don't have your X-Wing stuff with you and you Google some card because you don't remember exactly how it's worded, and 3) Boredom. 

The really straightforward upgrades like Recon Specialist kind of make 1 hard to do.

All that aside, let's go through the motions here just to keep everyone honest and so I can cross it off the list.

As you've no doubt noticed in your own games of X-Wing Miniatures and as I've said on here plenty of times, Focus is an extremely useful Action. If you started out playing the "lite" or "demo" version of the rules presented in the starter kit (basically the game but without Actions), you know how much more difficult it is down enemy ships without Focusing. Subsequently, if you play ships with only a Defend die or two, you know how hard it can be to stay alive when the red dice start flying. Focusing can make a huge difference in whether or not you do or take damage and as lots of folks will tell you, "When in doubt- Focus."

This is what makes Recon Specialist such a no-brainer. Focus is a great Action- usually the only real decision you have to make is whether to burn it on offense or defense. With Recon Specialist, you don't necessarily have to make that choice as you effectively generate two Focus tokens every time you perform the Focus Action.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa- stop the clock. Did you notice that little hiccup there? Every time you perform the Focus Action. Some folks kind of gloss over this bit, but it's important. Recon Specialist only kicks in when you Perform Action: Focus. What does that mean? If you've bonked into an asteroid or another ship? No Focus for you. If you've been gifted a Focus Token from Garven Dreis or Kyle Katarn? No (extra) Focus for you. It's only going to kick on if you actually Perform the Action.

That said, I do think there are a couple of ways around that- if you're given a Free Action from some generous soul flying by with Squad Leader or from Lando, for example and you choose Focus, I think that'd work. Stuff that actually gives you a Free Action rather than a token, in other words. You just have to perform the Focus Action, of course.

There's no ship that can't benefit from having this as, once again, Focus is such a handy, Swiss Army Knife style Action, so trying to come up with some specifics where it's bad is difficult. That said, I think it works even better than usual in a couple of instances.

First and most obviously, Kyle Katarn. His card text allows him to assign one of his Focus tokens to a ship that's within Range 3 of him and also obviously, when coupled up with the Moldy Crow title, it gets even better. The other HWK pilots benefit not nearly as much, and it's perhaps not the best idea to throw Recon Specialist in with Jan Ors as Jan will probably spend a lot of her game stressed, which prevents you from being able to Perform Action, etc. etc. That said, with the Crow title, it'd likely go a long way keeping her alive if you can manage to lose the Stress long enough to Perform Action. 

(And yes, I'm of the opinion that if you're going to use a Blaster Turret, you really should take a Recon Specialist. I know that it makes it expensive, but if you're already paying for a Blaster Turret, you've decided you want to try and actually use this ship as a fighter and not just a support ship, so once you've started going down that road, you might as well keep on going. If you don't, you're going to feel really silly the first time you lose your Perform Action step from a collision or because you simply forgot to pick Focus as your Action and now you can't shoot your fancy pants turret.)

On Falcons in general, I think it's handy because 1) most folks don't take more than a single Crew Member to begin with so there's usually an empty seat, and 2) it only has one defend die standard. If you can Focus that defend die, either twice on defense or once on offense and defense, so much the better. Works well with Han too as you know he's going to draw fire and he doesn't need it so much on offense with his card text. I think it makes Outer Rim Smuggler much more likely to live long enough to get some shots off too, what with being able to Focus twice on defense waiting for it to be his turn to throw around some red dice.

Firesprays it's a tougher decision as they're a one-seater, but with a pilot like Trelix who already has some attack buff in his card text, it makes downing him quite a bit tougher if he can choose to Focus two defend rolls with those two defend dice. Same thing for Scarlet and Fett, but I figure you're maybe using other Crew Members for them anyway. I do like it on Bounty Hunter for the same reason I liked it on Outer Rim Smuggler- much more likely to stay alive late in the Combat Phase if he can Focus two defend rolls.

I don't know that Recon Specialist works particularly well with any of the named Shuttle pilots- Jendon is ideally using Target Lock as his Action most rounds, Yorr is probably going to be Stressed much of the time like Jan, Yagi? Well, Yagi's not bad. I take it back- it actually works pretty well on him as he's probably going to be getting not only shot at, but shot at with Target Lock a lot. Packing a Recon Specialist would help keep him alive a little longer to work his magic.

Final note- this is a good card, don't get me wrong. That said, it's not a bulletproof vest, nor is it going to turn a ship into a force of destructive nature. It's highly unlikely this card is suddenly going to be the sole reason you win or lose games. Let me elaborate.

When the Wave 2 stuff dropped, I made a list with Dreis, a Gold Squadron Y-Wing, and Lando with Nien Nunb. The idea was you could pass around Focus Tokens and Free Actions almost at will. It wasn't the dumbest idea I've ever had, but it wasn't quite as smart as I thought it was either. On paper, it seemed very, very capable. In reality, it fell a little flat. 

Look at that spreadsheet- I had sooooo much more free time in my old position. Wow. 

It's not a terrible list, I just seriously overestimated how well it would work. At the end of the day, you're only going to use a Focus if you roll an eyeball. While that's nothing to disregard, it's also nothing to get crazy worked-up over. 

Long story long? Focus is like a condiment or a spice- it can drastically improve a dish, but you can't solely rely on it. Flying into battle with an X-Wing that has no access to Elite Pilot Skills, a Falcon that isn't flown by Han or Chewie, and a Gold Squadron Y-Wing ain't exactly a recipe for success against an opponent of equal measure, so by all means, use Recon Specialist, but don't expect drastically different results because you've now got two Focus tokens rather than 

EDIT: After re-reading this, I feel like I ought to point out a couple of things to the newer players. Were this a Wave 1 or Wave 2 card, I probably would have done it without even thinking about it in the copy body, but we're further along now in our exploration of the rules and stuff with X-Wing Miniatures, so I kind of didn't think it was necessary, but now I kinda do. Not enough to go back and fill-in though, so if you're an old pro, you probably don't need to read any further.

When you spend a Focus token, you change all the dice showing the eyeball symbol to that wavy arrow symbol on defense( and when attacking, you change all the dice showing an eyeball to the filled explosion symbol). Once you've spent it though, it's of course gone, so the rest of that round, anybody attacking you is going to do so against your unmodified defense rolls, which naturally aren't as likely to be as effective as a Focused defense roll.

So when I talk about being able to Focus twice on defense, what I'm saying is being able to use the Focus token on defense against two different attacks- not on two different dice against the same attack.

Secondly, when I talk about getting to Focus with Squad Leader or from Lando, bear in mind- you're still bound by the no performing the same Action twice rule, so no, you're not going to somehow end up with four Focus tokens. I wrote an article about this no performing the same action twice deal awhile back- it's a Bikini Battle Basics called Multiple Actions, Same Actions Explained! If you're not quite sure how that stuff works, by all means, check it out.

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