08 March 2013

Other Weapon Systems- Proximity Mines

This post regarding Secondary Weapon Systems is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 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 "Listbuilding Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Proximity Mines (3)
Attack Dice: 3
Range: Contact
Card Text: Action: Discard this card to drop one proximity mine token. When a ship executes a maneuver, if its base or maneuver template overlaps this token, this token detonates.
Usage in game: Area denial, tailgating deterrent
Breakdown: I don't remember if the KRT ship lists didn't include either of the bombs as upgrades, or the guy who was running Slave I at my store just didn't use them, but I'd been wondering for awhile what the bomb tokens looked like. To me, the effectiveness of either of the Firespray bombs solely depended on the size, and to a lesser extent the shape, of the templates mentioned in the card text. I'd also not been privy to the Bomb Token card, so I wasn't entirely sure what "detonated" entailed and all that.

Now that I've purchased a Firespray, I can give you the full lowdown.

First, as the little rules pamphlet goes out of the way to state that the Bombs are not Secondary Weapons, I made sure to not label this page, "Secondary Weapon Systems- Proximity Mines." Truth is, they're kind of their own animal, hence the "Other Weapon Systems" label. The two Bombs are also different from each other in several significant ways, but you'll see that once I have the Seismic Bomb article complete and posted.

Ok, so Prox Mines. First off, you capital-D Drop the mine from the Firespray. That's shorthand for place the 1 straight template behind the ship (lined up with the nubs) and then place the token on the other end of the template, lined up with its nubs. A picture's worth a thousand words and all, so here ya go-

Secondly, the Prox Mine drops as the result of an Action, so no, you'll not be K-Turning just short of the opposition and dropping the bomb right in their way (well, unless you employ some other sneaky tricks in the process). So you don't really have to worry about running into your own mine the same round it comes into play- you'll have already performed your maneuver. It also means having a lower PR pilot like the Bounty Hunter or Krassis Trelix drop the bomb isn't the worst idea you'll have today. That isn't to say that Fett or Kath Scarlet can't make use of Prox Mines, they obviously can, you're just more relying on either your own ability to herd your opponent into the Mine or you opponent's lack of maneuvering prowess to score the hit.

To be able to get a feel for this herding notion or to simply satisfy curiosity, it'd probably help if you had an idea of the size of this token. Here's another picture that ought to help with that.

Small, it ain't. Also remember that just having a movement template overlap this thing is enough to make it go off- the ship doesn't have to necessarily touch it.

Let's say you do get someone to run into the mine, what's the outcome? It's essentially a 3 Attack weapon that doesn't appear to be modifiable in any way- the card is another one of those "damage suffered" kind of things, so although you can't spend Focus or Target Lock or whatever, your opponent can't Evade or Focus or whatever either. If you have means of mitigating damage itself via an upgrade card or pilot ability, well, that's another story entirely, but aside from the initial 3 Attack roll, no other dice are rolled or re-rolled. 

How bad is that? Well, there again- if you look at an Attack die closely, you'll see there are 3 hit symbols and 1 critical symbol, so you're looking at a 50-50 chance of damaging their ship with each die. Not terrible odds at all.

All that in mind, is it worth the points? I think it can be in the right hands. First, you need to be smart about where and when you drop this thing. I can see folks who really know what they're doing laying down their asteroids in such a way as to create a bottleneck or funnel where the easy exit end is the Mine. I think that'd be pretty effective. I can also see folks holding onto it until they have some pesky fighter on their tail and dropping it in the middle to late stage of a match where perhaps the opponent has forgotten/ overlooked/ whatever the fact that the Bomb hasn't been deployed yet. It also would seem to be quite effective against those people who tend to run the same list every week in much the same way- i.e. this guy who always screams down the right hand side of the table at top speed, then does a 3 Turn a couple of times to position himself behind your squadron to get you in a pincher, etc.

Also, much like Assault Missiles, I see this as another weapon system that can put a player out of his normal routine and force him to play off the top of his head a bit more, which again- always a good thing for you, the opponent of that player. Force him to make decisions and you'll eventually force him to make a mistake.

So is it worth the points? It depends on the player. This isn't some no-brainer card like Swarm Tactics or Homing Missiles that is easily deployed effectively by a rookie player. This card is more subtle in its use and as such, needs a more experienced hand to guide it for full effect. If I had to make a prediction, I think it'd be a great candidate for a tournament simply because I doubt that many people will use it, and unfamiliar stuff like this can put players off their usual game.

07 March 2013

Secondary Weapon Systems- Homing Missiles

This post regarding Secondary Weapon Systems is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 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 "Listbuilding Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Homing Missiles (5)
Attack Dice: 4
Range: 2-3
Card Text: Discard this card to perform this attack. The defender cannot spend evade tokens during this attack.
Usage in game: 4 hits for 5 points with nearly Colt .45 level of accuracy.
Breakdown: As I mentioned in the Assault Missiles article, Homing Missiles are the poster boy, gotta have it, Secondary Weapon System of Wave 2. Everyone be lovin' Homing Missiles like they name was Raymond. Even before somebody finally read the card closely, people were in love with Homing Missiles.

So what's the story? It's a pretty good offensive punch to start with as the starfighters that can stock missiles don't have the ability to reliably get 4 attack dice. Then tack on the "can't spend Evade Tokens" thing and you've got yourself a decent little missile for downing the same guys who can take them. Couple it up with Deadeye, and it shouldn't be too hard to launch on the low PR TIE Advanced or A-Wing that took Evade because he had no valid targets.

Then somebody finally noticed the fine print about this card, or more accurately, the lack thereof.

Every other missile (and yeah, even Proton Torpedoes), you have to have and spend a Target Lock token to fire the missile. Not Homing Missiles though- you only have to possess the Target Lock.

Wait, what?

I know, I know. I missed it too. I've had an A-Wing since the KRT and I didn't notice it either. In my defense, I only used Homers once, the rest of the matches I played with my A-Wing, I ran it without missiles entirely. It's no excuse, I know, but yeah- I was one of those dummies who didn't read their cards closely, opting instead to hold it in my hand and imagine it zooming around crashing into the bridge of The Executor.

I'm sure other folks noticed it sooner, but I didn't hear anyone talking about the difference between Homing Missiles and every other missile weapon until the day Wave 2 came out, then suddenly everyone on the FFG X-Wing forums was talking about it. I dug into my X-Wing stuff, pulled out the card, and sure enough- every other missile card makes specific mention of needing to have a Target Lock to fire the missile, spending the Target Lock, and then discarding the missile card, but Homing Missiles just says "Attack: Target Lock" then the "discard this card" bit.

What's the big deal? Here's the big deal- if you don't have to spend the Target Lock to fire Homing Missiles, you can use the Target Lock to modify your Homing Missile roll. As in re-roll whatever dice you choose kind of modify? Yeah. Kind of makes a big difference, no? And God help whoever's in your sights if you had that TL from the round prior and managed to couple it up with a Focus token.

So what's the downside? Well, 5 points is kinda expensive, and of course it's only the one shot. You're going to want to make it count, so besides Target Locking and Focusing, is there anything else we can do to try and increase the odds of all four of those Attack dice hitting hard?

Looking at starfighters on the Rebel side, the only ship that can take Missiles is an A-Wing. Being a 2-3 ranged weapon, it doesn't mesh particularly well with Arvel Crynyd (not saying don't take it on him, just that it doesn't dovetail well with his ability). If you were running Green Squadron Pilot or Tycho Celchu with Push The Limit, you could tack on that extra Focus no problem, or go Deadeye instead, using the Focus to fire the missile and still modify the roll. Of course, flying near Garven Dreis or Dutch Vander yields Focuses and Target Locks respectively, but as I mentioned in their articles, be careful of the timing of the differing PRs involved.

A named pilot (grumble, bitch, grumble, only ship in the damn game that changes stats depending on the guy behind the wheel, bitch, bitch, grumble) YT-1300 can stock missiles, so you could throw a set of Homers on there and have a pretty robust firing platform, but then you're denying yourself a 3 Attack dice 360-degree turret attack, which isn't the best trade-off for 5 points, frankly. Once you've got that many points into one ship, 5 points does kind of add a lot and with the Gunner upgrade, you kind of don't need Homers anyway as you're getting a very similar end result with a better, as in more flexible, firing arc.

On the Imperial side, the TIE Advanced is the only starfighter who can stock missiles. I mentioned earlier today on the comments for Assault Missiles (I think) that I predict we'll start seeing more TIE Advanced pilots creep in to the game besides Vader. Why? Change in meta, Rebel meta, specifically, and a move away from swarms in general, at least in the short term. The people that are comfortable spending points on a one-shot weapon, given the possible if not probable outcomes, are going to want more missile boats in their lists, hence more TIE Advanced floating about the tables of X-Wing Miniatures players in numbers never seen up to this point before. 

I'm also saying this is where and how I'd use Maarek Stele if I were going to try and shoehorn him in somewhere. Yes friends, this is finally the card that makes him more that just somewhat worthwhile. You're for sure going to re-roll any dice that don't miss due to the Target Lock you're required to have to even play the card. If ever there was a time you'd be more likely to apply a crit than average, I think this is it. Especially if you dish him Push The Limit or Marksmanship (remember though, Marksmanship requires an Action, so make sure you already have the Target Lock). Can you imagine if you happened to roll 2 crits with that guy? The feeling of hopelessness you'd instill in your opponent as you rifled through six cards, picked out the worst two, and stuck them on his (formerly) 8 hull YT-1300? The schadenfreude would be nearly overwhelming.

If you're not sold on Stele, this is a nice missile for Vader and his two Actions. Declaring a Target Lock and a Focus is great as outlined above, just be sure to burn the TL first- you may not even need the Focus, so hang onto it and use it on defense later in the round. 

Wrapping up, are there ever instances in which you wouldn't take Homing Missles since they're just so doggone cool? Well, yeah. Although people argue with me about it, I still say against a target with only 1 Agility, Cluster Missiles can be more worthwhile than any other missile system, Concussion Missiles have their special rule turning a blank into a hit, and Assaults can hit stuff you didn't even actively target with the shot. Thing is though, those systems are all sort of contextual. You may not have an opponent who fields ships with only 1 Defend die, or roll a blank when you fire, or have ships within Range 1 of the guy you want to shoot. That's where Homing Missiles truly shine- they're never really ineffective. Are they the most effective option in some contextual situations? Nah, but they've never the out-and-out wrong choice either.

I used to tell people just starting out in 40k who would end up on a long losing streak the following advice- "Stop playing to win and start playing to not lose." May sound like an exercise in semantics, but to me there's a world of difference in playing to win and playing to not lose.

If you take Homing Missiles, you're playing to not lose. And that can be a very good, very successful strategy for you to employ in this game too.

06 March 2013

Secondary Weapon Systems- Assault Missiles

This post regarding Secondary Weapon Systems is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 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 "Listbuilding Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Assault Missiles (5)
Attack Dice: 4
Range: 2-3
Card Text: Spend your Target Lock and discard this card to perform this attack. If this attack hits, each other ship at range 1 of the defender suffers 1 damage.
Usage in game: Splash damage
Breakdown: A lot of people saw this card early (looking at zoomed in early release photos, if I remember right) and dubbed it the swarm killer and there was much rejoicing. Then the Kessel Run Tournaments happened and a few lucky folks got their hands on Wave 2 stuff early and reported that Assault Missiles were "rather underwhelming" and all the Rebel players still looking for an answer to the TIE Swarm were sort of collectively bummed out. Of course, then the TIE Swarm meta that'd been so dominant since the release of the game sort of started to stall out as dedicated Rebel players learned how to play the game better (mostly with 4 X-Wings at 100 points), and Assault Missiles were kind of forgotten; largely eclipsed by Homing Missiles as the new gotta have it Secondary Weapon System.

I'm not sure why folks were so underwhelmed; the card does two things that are fairly uncommon, if not flat out unique in this game- first, it's one of the only attacks that has the potential to damage more than one target, and two, it's one of the few cards that automatically damages without the defender getting a chance to try and mitigate the damage through normal game mechanics.

As for hitting multiple targets, it is what it sounds like in the card text- if you get a hit (and again- we're talking about you have at least one success that isn't mitigated by an Evade, Focused eyeball roll, etc.), then the target of the Assault Missiles takes damage just like with any other missile and any ships within Range 1 of that ship take one damage. Sure, it may not be a one-shot machine, although it's at least possible to one-shot a TIE, A-Wing, or Interceptor with it and you deal damage to everyone else around him.

Now, I know, I know, Swarms are dead, everyone's going elite pilots over spam no-names, I hear ya. That said, there are still a lot of Elite Pilot Skills that have a Range 1, so the notion that everyone is suddenly going to be flying around all by their lonesome seems unlikely to me. Also, while a lot of folks think of this as being a more Rebel-oriented weapon system, it very well could see more use in Imperial hands. 

Dig this- first off, it's 4 attack dice. Imperial ships don't get that nearly as often as Rebels, and especially not at 2-3. Next, a lot of Rebel players, like their Imperial counterparts are moving to less ships in their list, meaning basically, a 3 ship list of some sort. What's the odds all three of those Rebel ships are totally spread out? Maybe I'm nuts, but I'm saying not many. You're going to see a lot of the same old Wave 1 stuff with a few Wave 2 elements tacked on for awhile yet and a lot of those old combos are dependent on ships being in range 1 with each other. In other words, Rebel opponent forcing you to shoot at Biggs? Load up the Assault Missiles. How's that treatin' ya, mustache?

Secondly, regarding the damage, note the way the card reads- the ships at range 1 of the defender suffer one damage. No Evade tokens, no rolls, nada. Just take 1 damage. Is it a ton? No. Is it 1/3 of a TIE's hull? Yes. Why are people complaining about this? So it only burned a shield off a Y-Wing, so what? It's still one less shield you have to burn off yourself, and for Christ's sake- you weren't even shooting at that guy!

I think if Homing Missiles don't exist, less folks are "underwhelmed" with this card. Is it something I'd take every match? Nah, probably not. Of course, I'm not a big missile/ torpedo guy to start with, so that's kind of misleading to begin with. That said, am I considering packing a set for my next FLGS tournament? Sure, why not? I know somebody's going to still be flying a swarm- might as well try and make them pay for it.

So let's say I've talked you into the notion of Assault Missiles- what are the best ways to try and get your points worth? Well, first ideally you need to have a Focus token to burn along with that Target Lock when you fire it, so pilots or Elite Pilot Skills that make that more likely to happen are options you want to look at closely- Push The Limit, a nearby pal with Squad Leader, Garven Dreis, Dutch Vander, Lando and Nein Nunb, etc. You could substitute this for Marksmanship too if you wanted to use that instead. In fact, on somebody like Vader I think that'd be the way to go.

I was going to make a case for putting Assault Missiles on a low PR pilot (Green Squadron A-Wing, Tempest TIE Advanced, etc.) in an attempt to mop up several already dinged ships, but really, I think perhaps the opposite is true- stick it on somebody with a high PR like Vader and maybe some of your lower PR pilots can do the mopping up as their targets are already a little big banged up.

I know people saying if they know their opponent is packing Assaults they'll just spread out. Let 'em. Odds are, that wasn't part of their original plan, and as such, they'll be in somewhat unknown territory. Let them try to fly their list without Howlrunner providing re-rolls, or Vader doing a Swarm Tactics drive-by, or Lando tossing a Free Action out the window of the Falcon. Like I always say- force your opponent to think and he's way more likely to make a mistake.

05 March 2013

Elite Pilot Skills- Daredevil

This post regarding Elite Pilot Skills is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 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 "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

I swear I'll take picutres of more Wave 2 stuff than just the A-Wing tomorrow night

Daredevil (3)
Card Text: Execute a red <Turn Right at 1> or <Turn Left at 1> maneuver. Then, if you do not have the <Boost Action> icon, roll two attack dice. Suffer any <Hit> damage or <Critical Damage> damage as rolled.

Usage in game: (Scary-ass) Additional maneuverability
Action?: Yes.

Breakdown: Daredevil is a card you need to read closely to see the full potential, and even then I don't think a lot of players will fully realize what they've got in front of them. I've heard and read too many conversations that ask why somebody would waste an Elite Pilot Skill slot for Daredevil when they could just buy Engine Modification and get a Boost Action icon added to their ship for one more point. 

Look closely at the Daredevil card though, and you'll find those aren't 1 banks on the Daredevil card- they're 1 turns.

If that foreshadowing was too subtle for you, let me spell it out- Boost allows you to make banks, not turns. If you need to brush up on what a Boost Action gets you, read up on Boost if you need to.

So big deal, right? Banks, schmanks. Who cares? Why would I waste an Elite Pilot Talent on-

Well, still I think that Boost is- wait- what? OH! Oh shit! Is that picture real?

They're real, and they're spectacular. If you click on that picture, you'll see that a 1 Turn is a white maneuver for an Interceptor (just for example- a 1 Turn is a white move for several other ships too), coupled up with a Daredevil maneuver in the same direction. The empty base is in there to remind you that there's a stop along the way as they're two separate maneuvers and all.

Got a buddy who is preternaturally good at guessing your maneuvers? Seems like he's in your six the whole doggone match? Well, grab a Saber Squadron Interceptor, stick Daredevil on him, and pull the above picture in your next match for a real Shyamalan-esque plot twist (one of the good ones I mean). Be sure to bring a mop to clean up the puddle forming under your opponent as you pick up the Attack dice.

So what else is different between the Daredevil and Boost Actions?

Well, these turns that Daredevil allows count as maneuvers, and as they're listed as being red maneuvers in the card text, that means you're going to get a Stress token. In the case of Soontir Fel, that can be construed as being a good thing, for most folks this is kind of a negative, or at the very least is something that needs to be managed. That's pretty significant one way or the other. Main thing to keep in mind here of course is not to pull Daredevil if you're already stressed out- stick with a Boost if you need to get out of somebody's firing arc as it doesn't count as a maneuver and doesn't give Stress tokens.

POSSIBLY HUGELY IMPORTANT EDIT: It just occurred to me while posting in a thread about Boost over on the FFG forums, you cannot pre-measure a Daredevil action like you would a Boost or Barrel Roll. It's termed a maneuver in the card text, not an Action (like Boost or Barrel Roll), so it is not permissible to pre-measure a Daredevil maneuver (page 6 of the rulebook). With Boost, if you're going to overlap, you just don't perform the Action and your ship doesn't move, but with Daredevil, you'd perform the maneuver, then if you overlapped, you move back along your template to the point you're not touching the ship's base, etc.

I love this card because unless you either a) do your homework by actually, you know, reading the card text and pulling out your templates to see how this stuff actually functions, or b) read amazingly insightful posts like this one, this is a total sleeper card a lot of folks will glance at and dismiss.

I guarantee if your gaming group doesn't read up on X-Wing Miniatures on the FFG forums, some of the other good X-Wing forum sites, or TheMetalBikini.com, you could pull this stunt and win your next tournament with an Interceptor heavy list. Few people will see this one coming unless someone tells them about it. Because most people are stupid and lazy and want other folks to do the thinking for them. Not you though- you're cool. :)

Hell, even if they have read this particular strategy somewhere else, it's still hard to get your head around. I mean, Christ- where exactly are you safe when it comes to Boosting ships (which again- is any ship now that Engine Modification is out there) that have a 1 Turn as a maneuver on their dial that also have a pilot who is a Daredevil? It gets even more interesting if you can add in some sort of Stress mitigation mechanic.

Wave 2 Imperial poster boy Soontir Fel gets absolutely terrifying with this as his Pilot Skill as he doesn't even need to buy the Engine Upgrade being as how he's already flying a TIE Interceptor. Remember yesterday when I said that Push The Limit seems tailor made for him? Well, if you're not that good at keeping your buddy's ships off your six, take this instead. 

Got Fel in your sights? Closed to Range 1 distance? Time to start saying, "Stay on target, stay on target", and laughing right? Nah. Bad news pal, after doing the 1 Turn for his movement and subsequently the 1 turn Daredevil Action, he picks up a Focus because he's stressed. Oh, and he's PR9, so in all likelihood, he's now shooting at you as soon as he sets down that 1 turn template the second time.

Don't forget the extra die, Soontir.

Bikini Battle Basics- Boost Action Explained!

Bikini Battle Basics is a new series here on TheMetalBikini.com where we dissect certain game mechanics to aid in understanding and promote effective application. In short, it's stuff you need to know, but is somewhat obtuse or hard to understand and warrants further discussion, but don't fit directly into a category like Listbuilding, for example. 

Boost Action

Many of the Wave 2 ships, and Wave 1 ships when outfitted with the Engine Modification upgrade, can make use of Boost Actions. So what is it and what's it good for? 

Let's start off with talking about what's on the card and how it translates in-game. 

First, as the name implies, Boost is an Action you can declare after you move. Essentially, it allows you a little more movement, hence why a lot of folks were referring to this as the "Rebel barrel roll" once folks started seeing the tri-arrow Boost icon in photos of the A-Wing cards. 

Once you declare a Boost, you can make a straight 1 move or a bank 1 one move in either direction. Effectively, you do this immediately following your movement maneuver, and for future reference, Boost does not count as a maneuver. Additionally, you cannot Boost if the move would cause you to overlap with another ship's base or an obstacle token- there's no moving your ship back along the template when it comes to a Boost. 

So now that we know what it is, what's the point of it? 

The criteria for Boosting is contextually similar to Barrel Rolling. Probably the most obvious application is to try and get your Boosting ship out of a would-be attacker's arc of fire, especially if they're at Range 1. Similarly, a Boost can be all it takes to get yourself into Range 1 of an enemy ship you've been tailing. Now whether or not it's better to be in Range 1 or stay at Range 2 but use a Target Lock or Focus for your action, I'll leave that up to the math wizards, but let me say this- it really probably depends on the PR of your ship and the PR of the other ship more than anything, if there are any enemy ships that still have you in their sights, and other extenuating circumstances, but whatever. Somebody's gonna do a stats math probability graph and conclusively prove you should always do one or the other sooner or later, so take it for what it's worth. 

I think Boost is one of those cards that really helps a newer player mitigate ineffective maneuvers (which is nice that it comes on so many of the Wave 2 ships few of us have any real experience maneuvering at this point).

Sure, using Boost along with a stock maneuver can cause you to end up in places that a maneuver alone wouldn't allow for, and advanced players will certainly make use of the card, but mostly I see this card benefiting new players more than experienced ones. Making safer, shorter turns or banks to close on an opponent, then Boosting to get into Range 1 of the target, for example. Or misjudging the distance you need (could be shorter, could be longer even) to fire your missiles. End results of maneuvers can be fudged a bit with a Boost. Or perhaps you're trying to get back into range of a Swarm Tactics bubble and you fell a bit short, or you're trying to get back into range of a Squad Leader or Dreis or Howlrunner after running down an enemy ship on the fringe of the battle. Boost helps make that happen too. 

04 March 2013

Elite Pilot Skills- Push The Limit

This post regarding Elite Pilot Skills is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 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 "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Push The Limit (3)
Card Text: Once per round, after you perform an action, you may perform 1 free action shown in your action bar. Then receive 1 stress token.

Usage in game: Additional Action at a cost...
Action?: No.

Breakdown: I recently started playing Edge of the Empire with some friends of mine. I don't know if y'all play this game, but every combat turn, you can perform one maneuver (drawing a gun, aiming, taking cover, etc.) and one action (shooting your gun, etc.). Now, if you want to, you can choose to pull 2 maneuvers and the action, i.e. draw your weapon and aim it, then fire it as well, but you invoke strain to do so, which will eventually make you pass out or turn an ankle or whatever.

Push The Limit is sorta like that. One Action per turn just not enough for ya? Garven Dreis, Squad Leader, Dutch Vander, etc. not for you? Pay three points, and you too can be a sort of, generic, off-brand Vader! Pick up your Stress Token at customer service, please.

PTL isn't bad. Don't take my flippant tone the wrong way; like most any of the Elite Pilot Skills, it's beneficial with a drawback that in some specific cases, isn't really a drawback at all. In fact, it makes perfect sense to stick it on Tycho Celchu as he doesn't care if he has Stress tokens or not when it comes to declaring Actions, and it actually makes a whole lot of sense to stick it on Soontir Fel as he gets a Focus token every time he receives a Stress Token.

Think about that for a moment, Soontir Fel has four Actions in his bar, standard. If you stick Push The Limit on him, you could conceivably do up to three of those four Actions every round. Right? I'm right about that, aren't I? This has been another one of those rough weekends with the kids where I don't get much sleep, so maybe I'm got this wrong and everybody will attack me for being a laser brain in the comments section, but I swear that's accurate. Admittedly, it ain't cheap, brings him to an even 30 points, but that's pretty amazing. Just be sure you understand the first two Actions can't both be Focuses, though you could do, for example an Evade with Fel's normal round Action, pick Focus for your PTL Free Action, which then stresses you, which triggers a Focus Token (for more info on these kind of shenanigans, check out the article called Multiple Actions, Same Actions Explained!) All that with a PR 9 TIE Interceptor? Holy Mackerel, will anybody be able to shoot him down without the luckiest of lucky rolls? Sign me up.

PTL works well with pretty much anyone else who has some extra means of mitigating stress too- Luke or Wedge with an R2 Astromech (I know, I know- you'd never fly Luke or Wedge with just an R2 Astromech, but it's possible and just imagine for a moment you've gotten really good at having Biggs tank for Wedge, and now Wedge can Focus and Target Lock every... single... round), A Falcon pilot with Nein Nunb, a Green Squadron A-Wing and the plethora of green maneuvers available to A-Wings, ditto for a Saber TIE Interceptor, or the aforementioned Celchu. 

Again, anyone- even a Black Squadron TIE (hi HeyChadwick!), can conceivably make use of another Action, it's just some folks are a little better at dealing with the downside than others. It mainly depends on how competent you are at making green moves and not compromising yourself, which probably really is more about whether your opponent is good at exploiting your relative predictability in having to make a green move to get rid of your stress or not.

Well that and whether or not he's packing an Ion weapon. 

Remember, that 1 straight from an ion hit is defined as a white maneuver regardless of the ship performing it or any upgrades they may possess, so watch it pulling this stunt around a Y-Wing or a Firespray.

Also recall that in the rulebook, it states that if you assign a stressful maneuver to a ship that already has a Stress Token, not only does the move not go off, your opponent gets to take the wheel for that ship and assign it any move s/he wants (that isn't a stressful move). I expect this rule to get glossed over a lot now that Wave 2 has hit because in most cases, playing under stress wasn't really that big of a deal with just the Wave 1 stuff. Stress was largely invoked because you did a K-Turn and that was pretty much the beginning and end of it. Now with Kath Scarlet dishing out Stress Tokens when her crits are mitigated and cards like Push The Limit, we're all going to need to keep an eye on Stress a little more closely both on our side as well as the other side of the table for those folks who like to pull K-Turns willy-nilly.

02 March 2013

Tournament Rules and FAQ Updated!

With the release of the new Wave 2 ships, it was only a matter of time before FFG would update the Tournament Rules. What I wasn't expecting was a FAQ update so quickly too!

February 2013 FAQ here.

New Tournament Rules here.  

No massive rule changes or anything. Probably the most significant thing to a lot of players is the acceptance of 3rd party range rulers now being allowed in Organized play. Other than that, 

  • Addition of the Wave 2 ships for what's allowed in tournaments
  • Clarification on Biggs' tanking ability
  • Overlapping a ship that causes you to overlap an obstacle
  • Assorted whatnots that I think were how everyone was playing it anyway. 
Still, it wouldn't kill you to at least take a peek at it. 

01 March 2013

Elite Pilot Skills- Deadeye

This post regarding Elite Pilot Skills is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 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 "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Deadeye (1)
Card Text: You may treat the "Attack [Target Lock]:" header as "Attack: [Focus]" 

When an attack instructs you to spend a target lock, you may spend a focus token instead.
Usage in game: Selective release of Proton Torpedoes or Missiles.
Action?: No.

Breakdown: As you likely know, launching Proton Torpedoes or the various Missiles is a two-step process- first one must declare a Target Lock Action in the Activation Phase, then spend the Target Lock token in the Combat Phase in order to fire as dictated on the upgrade card for the Torps or Missiles in question.

At a glance, this isn't that restrictive, and as a result, some folks are left wondering exactly what the point of a card like Deadeye is, or perhaps more accurately, why they'd want to waste a fairly valuable Elite Pilot Skills slot on something like Deadeye.

Short version? Deadeye lets you fudge a bit in your target selection.

As mentioned above, when you declare your Target Lock Action in the Activation phase, your target has to be within Range 3 of your ship. Depending on the ship's PR, the battlefield may change fairly dramatically from when the TL token is acquired and where that target ship ends up. Now, not being able to immediately launch missiles or torps sometimes isn't such a bad thing since Target Lock tokens are persistent and stick around from one turn to the next, it may give you a chance to declare a Focus then stack that benefit along with the Target Lock, but in any case, there can be some limitations with the timing of picking your target for Target Lock and having that same Target still in a fire arc when the combat phase rolls around to your ship.

Who is this likely to happen to? Folks with lower PRs.

Pilots with higher PRs, especially 7, 8, or 9 aren't likely to see that many ships move between their Action declaration and rolling their Attack dice. A PR3 ship like a Green Squadron A-Wing though? In all likelihood the game board has changed fairly significantly during the time since he declared his Action and the time he actually gets to fire his Missiles. Deadeye lets you remain flexible as, well, 90% of the time you probably declare Focus as your Action anyway, right?

Double-checking myself here, I think maybe that's the only ship I'd take Deadeye on. The few Imperial pilots who satisfy the criteria of a) Can take Missiles, b) Have PR below 7, and c) Have access to Elite Pilot Skills are few and far between, which is to say zero unless I'm missing something here. 

For the Rebels, Chewie fits the bill as he satisfies all three of those criteria, but I still think Draw Their Fire is a better choice for him in the long run. Keep in mind, this is all kind of relative to an opponent who plays a fairly wide spread of PR in their list. If your opponent only fields all-stars like Luke, Wedge, Solo, Lando, Celchu, or Vader, Fett, Fel, Howlrunner, Mithel, etc., you might drop that PR criteria, your mileage may vary depending on your local meta.

Last thing to mention about Deadeye- it's only a 1 point card, so don't feel like you MUST use it if you do take it. If you're going for an alpha strike on a ship or just like having the option available to you just in case a high-point, high-threat Imperial ship ends up in your sights or something, by all means, use Deadeye, but if at all possible, Focus that torpedo or missile- it makes such a difference in damage output it'd be worth it to eat the point you paid for Deadeye in the long run. Of course, if you plan on flying your Green Squadron A-Wing next to Garven Dreis or Lando and Nein Nunb, you can have your cake and eat it too.

28 February 2013

New toys!!!

Wheeee! One of my FLGS started selling Wave 2 stuff today!

(Holding off on the Falcon & Slave I as my birthday is Sunday- yes I'm going to be 39 & I'm still getting Star Wars toys for my birthday.)

Multiple Actions, Same Actions Explained!

I was playing a game last night with my friend Sean over Google Hangout and as it was his first game of X-Wing Miniatures, naturally, he had a few questions. 

One of the questions that cropped up had to do with Squad Leader, what Action could be declared with the Squad Leader Action and then, subsequently, what Action could be declared with the Pilot's native Action- namely, could those two Actions be the same? Or what about Vader and his dual Actions pilot ability? Could Vader declare the same Action twice?

As this is something I used to get wrong, I'm kind of sensitive to it, so I thought I'd take a moment to talk about it here because it is a little convoluted. 

I find it's easier to use examples when talking about this stuff, but don't let it confuse you- even though I'm talking about Focus, the same would apply for any Action (and yeah, you could sub Target Lock throughout the following example and use Dutch Vander instead of Garven Dreis). 

Note also that a Free Action is defined by the rulebook as an Action that doesn't count against the one Action per Activation Phase rule. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less (top of page 8). 

First Example- 
Luke Skywalker has executed a maneuver and follows up with a Focus Action, completing his Activation Phase. Later, Wedge Antilles who has been upgraded with the Squad Leader Elite Pilot Skill, elects to give Luke a Free Action (per the Squad Leader card) from his Action bar. Can Luke select Focus again? 

In this example, no. Luke couldn't take Focus a second time because the rules explicitly state the same Action may not be taken twice in the same turn (Rulebook, bottom of page 9). 

Second Example- 
Luke Skywalker possesses a Focus token from his Activation phase when he declared Focus as his Action. As the game progresses through the Combat Phase, Luke still possesses his Focus after firing on another ship. Later in the same Combat Phase, nearby Garven Dreis uses a Focus token to modify his To Hit roll. Dreis has a special rule that allows him to pass the Focus token along rather than discard it. He elects to pass it to Luke Skywalker. Can Luke use both Focus tokens in this Combat Phase? 

Yes, in this example, this is totally cool. The reason? Luke has not declared the same Action twice- he has simply received a Focus token from Dreis. He then has two Focus tokens to help him fend off any attacks for the rest of that round.  

The key to understanding this is realizing where people get hung up- namely that the acquiring of a token and the spending of a token are not actually Actions, but the result of the Action.

Declaring an Action is the most common way of acquiring a token, but they're not the same thing. In other words, declaring a Focus Action gets you a Focus token, but just because you have a Focus token doesn't necessarily mean you declared a Focus Action. 

So long story long, if you're the beneficiary of a specific Action token from a special ability, maneuver, upgrade, etc., it doesn't matter what Action you declared back in your Activation phase and it doesn't matter what tokens you currently possess- you're good.

If however, you're the beneficiary of an additional Action, it does matter because you're declaring an Action and you can't declare the same Action twice in the same turn. 

Ya dig? 

Elite Pilot Skills- Expose

This post regarding Elite Pilot Skills is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 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 "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Expose (4)
Card Text: Until the end of the round, increase your primary weapon value by 1 and decrease your agility value by 1.
Usage in game: When your primary attack value just isn't enough.
Action?: Yes.

Breakdown: Expose is one of those cards people have been talking about since the Kessel Run Tournaments were held and we started getting glimpses of Wave 2 cards, and with good reason. It's a pretty nasty Action, that really any ship that can take Elite Pilot Skills can theoretically make good use of, after all, who couldn't use a +1 to their primary weapon value?

To me, the question of Expose boils down more to who does it work even better with because it works pretty well with anyone. The reason it is so universally great is it has a rather significant downside- the whole sacrifice 1 agility thing, meaning of course, you're rolling one less green die when you're fired upon. You also need to keep in mind that this is Elite Pilot Skill that requires an Action, so it's kind of two downsides really.

I can see this card becoming one of those, "I find such-and-such a bit underwhelming" kind of things with a lot of players, but folks who know how to move and maneuver will absolutely punish people with this card. The main way to mitigate that 1 less Agility downside? Yup- you guessed it, don't give your opponent a shot back at you. Perhaps fly the bearer of Expose out on a flank on somebody with a high PR so you kill the one guy who can shoot you back then move on down the line? Hmmm?

So who should you put it on? As it requires an Action (and you might not be able to Focus or TL as a result), I want to look at anybody who already has a buff to their primary attacks as with some careful maneuvering, you can hopefully kill off whoever would get a shot back before they have a chance to fire. So a guy like Wedge benefits like mad. A guy like Solo benefits to a nearly disgusting amount- you just need to find a way to mitigate the downside (Biggs, a nearby ship with Squad Leader that could throw an extra Action which would ideally become an Evade if you took the Falcon title, Chewie as a Crew member, Shield Upgrade, or a nearby friend with Draw Their Fire spring to mind as possibilities of varying degrees of validity). Other Rebel pilots benefit too, but again, everyone benefits on paper with Expose- I'm just calling out those two because they go from already powerful offense to really kind of ridiculous. Luke is the third person on here as his Focus-lite defense ability sort of mitigates the downside of the Expose and functions without an Action. An A-Wing isn't bad either as they have a 3 Agility stock and a couple of shields to boot, and Tycho Celchu can even do a K-Turn then use Expose with his pilot ability. That shouldn't be underestimated by anyone. It ain't cheap, but oh boy, if you opponent likes to fly his ships in a line and you sandwich him in between with Tycho as one piece of bread and the rest of your stuff as the other? Wow.

For the Imperials who have a defend die to spare in just about all cases and still come out fairly even except at close range, it's a similar line of thinking. Throw it on a guy with high PR who already does more damage, or somebody who is usually operating in a Swarm Tactics bubble that gives him an unusually high PR. Mauler Mithel gets pretty ridiculous too if you can get him in Range 1 to a target, of course Vader can deal with the loss of a Defend die with his two stock actions and shields to boot, and Maarek starts to approach dangerous with this card, but doesn't quite make it. I also like it with Kath Scarlet as it let's her roll another die to try and score a crit. You could stick it on the TIE Interceptor pilots, because of their superior available maneuvers just like you could stick it on a Black Squadron TIE, but other than that, there's no real synergy to speak of like you get with some of the other pilots already mentioned.

The thing to bear in mind here is it's 4 points. That's kind of not cheap in this game. I realize it's tempting to stick this on every ship that can take an Elite Pilot Skill, but to get your points worth, you want to use Expose at least a couple of times in your game, so try and stick it on somebody who will either really make the shot count and can live with the downside as they don't live and die by Focusing, Target Locking, or any other Action. Anything fair to middlin' ought not to be considered if you ask me.

27 February 2013

Elite Pilot Skills- Elusiveness

This post regarding Elite Pilot Skills is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 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 "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Elusiveness (2)
Card Text: When defending, you may receive 1 stress token to choose 1 attack die. The attacker must reroll that die. If you have at least one stress token, you cannot use this ability.
Usage in game: When you just have to get rid of a particular die result.
Action?: No.

Breakdown: I think Elusiveness is one of the more interesting upgrade cards of Wave 2. Although folks have definitely noticed that there are some builds, especially some Han Solo builds, that generate hits at a staggering rate, what might be equally interesting are some combos with Wave 1 and Wave 2 stuff that yield ships that are ridiculously hard to hit.

So Elusiveness just forces a re-roll, it doesn't flat out negate or mitigate, what's the big deal? First thing that jumps out at me is it's one of those, "When defending..." type cards. It's not an Action, it's solely up to you when it triggers, which is handy as you could conceivably take a hit or two from a primary weapon if you were out of shields, but if you see a crit coming down the road from a Heavy Laser Cannon or there's an A-Wing lurking nearby with Homing Missiles and Deadeye or something, you could hang onto it apply it then. Again, it's not a sure-fire way to get out of a hit or a crit, but for only two points and the fact that you can apply it to any attack die result, it ain't half bad.

The downside is generating a stress token for yourself, but look at when you're generating that token- the combat phase. You've already declared your Action for that turn, so as long as you pull a green maneuver in your next movement phase, you're not really incurring any penalty for using this card.

I think the key to using Elusiveness to its full potential will be to apply it to someone who is already difficult to land hits against for some reason or another. I don't think it's quite reliable enough to just tack onto just anybody and feel like you're definitely in better shape than you were before, but paired with somebody who's already a hard target? Especially someone who maybe doesn't have a no-brainer Elite Pilot Skill already associated to them?

Take for example Darth Vader. Two actions per round, one of which is an Evade. Stick Elusiveness on him and if you're Focusing as well, you've got the Focus to try and mitigate hit dice, you've got the Evade token to burn, and now you've got Elusiveness to re-roll whatever might have made it through all that. As early Wave 2 meta seems to be placing a premium on higher-point individuals rather than lower-point swarms, this would fit in nicely with most any Imperial list. If you really want to make things interesting, stick a Stealth Device on him as well. It could work on the named Interceptor pilot Turr Phennir with his boosting out of the way after an attack business too.

I'll tell you who I think could conceivably make the most use of this though, and that's Luke Skywalker. Dig this combo for a moment-

(37) Luke Skywalker + Elusiveness + R2-F2 + Shield Upgrade

Could anybody reliably kill that? You've got Luke's built-in Focus-lite ability, amplified by R2-F2 or just an actual Focus. For the hits that still land, you can force the opponent to re-roll one of them, then if it still make it through all that, you've got an extra shield. Holy mackerel. Or if you feel that's overkill, maybe shave a point and trade in Shield Upgrade for Stealth, or perhaps just leave the ship mod off entirely and save the points. Of course, with that many points you're likely locked into a strictly starfighter force, but hey, you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet, right? Oh, and I know, I already hear it- "Oh, but he's got no offense." Fool-, he still flying an X-Wing, man.

Still though, much like our discussion on Y-Wings being inherently better to take R5 Astromechs than X-Wings because they have more hull and will likely be cruising around with crits longer, YT-1300s and Firesprays would make great use of this card too for the simple fact that they have more hull and shields, and are therefore more likely to stay alive long enough to use this upgrade a bunch of times. It doesn't mesh up particularly well with any of the pilots of these ships, but if I were coming in at 97 or 98 points and hadn't stuck on an Elite Pilot Skill, I'd consider it if I'd had trouble keeping one of those big ships alive the past few games. I still believe in general one should exploit that huge base on an area buff type EPS, but again- it'd depend on my recent experiences with the ship more than anything. I'd probably consider Nein Nunb a must if I were sticking it on a YT-1300 to give myself as much maneuverability as possible when trying to shake that stress token too. Which if you're going there, you might as well give Lando a pretty hard look as he's throwing around Focuses when he does green maneuvers, which he'll have more to choose from with Nunb as Crew, bleeding off stress tokens.