15 March 2013

Crew Members- Luke Skywalker

This post regarding Crew Members 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.

Luke Skywalker (7)
Card Text: After you perform an attack that does not hit, immediately perform a primary weapon attack. You may change one <eyeball result> to a <hit> result. You cannot perform another attack this round.

Usage in game: Attack outcome insurance policy
Action?: No

Breakdown: Luke Skywalker as a crew member is kind of a confusing card at first glance. There's kind of a lot going on, and it took me several read-throughs, and before I went to type up this post, I still stopped by the rules section of the FFG forums just to be sure I had it right before I went to the mat with this info.

So, reading the card text step-by-step, here's what we've got-

1. You've performed an attack that doesn't hit.
Ok- what does that mean though? Like I missed with all my dice or I got some hits, but they were mitigated by the target's defense dice, Evade tokens, Draw Their Fire, etc?

Right. When we play this game, if you're like me, you roll the Attack dice and say stuff like, "2 hits, 1 crit." This isn't entirely accurate if you read the Combat Phase steps. What you've really got are filled explosion symbols and unfilled explosion symbols. If those results aren't Cancelled then those symbol results become capital-H Hits and Critical Damage, respectively. 

That's why cards like Crew Member Skywalker can get confusing at times.

So what does the card text mean by "doesn't hit?" An attack that nets no hits against the defender. That is, you didn't roll any explosion symbols or you didn't roll enough to get past his evade die rolls, eyeball results and he burns a Focus, his Evade tokens, or any combination thereof. If you didn't register a hit against the target ship in the Combat Phase sense of the word, then you can trigger Skywalker, so something like Draw Their Fire wouldn't work as a trigger for Skywalker's ability- the attack hit, it just gets moved to another ship. Other than that, I think it's pretty much up to the (Luke) owning player.

EDIT: In the comments, Bikini Aficionado Patrick brings up a point that Dark Curse's special text might not affect Luke after all- and I can see where he's coming from. 

DC's card text says no Focus and no re-rolls. Technically, Luke's ability is not a re-roll, instead termed "a primary weapon attack"- not a specifically called-out re-roll. I'd keep an eye on the FFG Rules Forums and subsequent FAQs because I could see this falling on either side of the fence depending on how the game devs wanted DC's ability to work exactly, but for now, I think Luke's ability does work against Dark Curse.

Note that if your target spends a token in an effort to mitigate your initial attack, that token of course, stays gone (yet another reason why I think Action and token management is going to be super important to successful lists nowadays).

Last bit to add about this- while it's probably somewhat unlikely that you're firing missiles from a YT-1300, Luke doesn't care if the attack is from a primary or secondary weapon- if the attack don't hit, you must acquit. I mean, you can trigger Luke's ability.

2. Immediately perform a primary weapon attack.
Ok, so you must fire the primary weapon of the ship Luke's riding around inside. No missiles, etc.

3. You may change one <eyeball result> to a <hit> result.
Luke's starting to get on good terms with the Force obviously, so if you roll an eyeball, you can flip it to a hit symbol, sorta like the offensive version of the Luke Skywalker, X-Wing Pilot ability.

4. You cannot perform another attack this round.
This last bit throws folks for a bit of a loop too. My take on it is if you've managed to not hit with your first, initial attack, then you manage to somehow not hit with Luke too, you can't then turn around and attempt a third attack, via Gunner or something (remember the YT-1300 pilots all have two Crew Member icons). Either that or it's written with Wave 3 in mind and perhaps there's some mechanism that allows a ship more than one attack per round. In any case, once you're done with Luke, you're done with that ship.

Still with me? Makin' dollars to ya? It's kind of not too bad if you break it down in chunks when you try to understand it. Of course, that said, I've probably gone and effed something up that'll get me torn apart in the comments.

I think the usage of this upgrade is fairly self-explanatory- if you've tooled up an offensive Falcon in your list, but don't have a ton of Actions floating around, Luke's likely a must-have. I'd say he's also something to consider if you're already taking Gunner, because for 2 more points, you get the same upgrade with a bit of a Focus-lite ability for free and without using an Action which leaves you to take Focus or an Evade, assuming of course you sprung for the 1 point Falcon title upgrade.

All right, so last thing I want to mention for this post is this: you need to think a little carefully with Crew Member Luke the first few times you use him. There are times you might want to do some things that seem a little counter-intuitive at first glance to try and maximize your options. Don't get in the habit of purposely throwing away good rolls to try and trigger Luke, but at the same time, if you don't have a great attack, don't waste your Focus tokens to register a single hit on a ship with more than 1 Hull Point left. Ideally, you want to make that token count, as your ship likely only has 1 defense die, and you could probably get better use out of it on a defense roll later in the turn. 

Conversely, if you're defending against someone who has Luke on board, there are times you might not want to spend your Focus or Evade tokens too. If you can get away with only 1 hit on an otherwise undamaged ship, you might be better off saving your tokens for later attacks too. By allowing that single hit to register, you prevent your opponent from triggering Luke and probably making it much worse on yourself. 

Bear in mind in either of those scenarios listed above, it's still up to you when to spend a Focus token. You could opt to not spend the Focus on your initial attack roll, but then spend it to modify the Luke roll and be completely and totally within the rules of the game. For defenders, looking to not take a butt kicking, keep an eye on the tokens available to the ship with Luke- if he scores a single hit and is sitting on a Focus token, for goodness' sake, take that hit! If he re-rolls with the Luke ability and a Focus token? Hoo boy.  

Using Luke can be a bit of a gamble (in that you've already got a pretty decent shot at hitting what you're shooting at to begin with kind of gamble, not in respect to outcome- Luke darn near guarantees it at that point), and a 7 points, it's not a gamble for everybody. I plan on flying my YT-1300 without him for a bunch of games to weigh whether or not I really need to spend that 7 points to make sure I hit my targets. As usual, your mileage may vary. I tend to play from a more survival-focused, try not to die, try not to lose, kind of mindset rather than max out on attacks and go for broke approach. That's just me and the way I usually play games of just about any kind. Luke's probably not the greatest fit for me and my lists, but he may be exactly what you need to make sure that all those points you spent on Han Solo are downing a ship or getting really close to it every single time the Falcon throws some red out of that 360 turret.

10,000 Pageviews on TheMetalBikini.com

Around 10:17am (CST) on 14 March 2013, the site had it's 10,000th pageview. Considering I've only been doing this about 6 weeks, have no advertising/ marketing/ SEO budget, and not a lot of free time to work on this thing, that's pretty darn amazing and I just wanted to take a second to thank y'all. 

This site was started because an old friend of mine suggested I share the info I'd compiled on listbuilding in this big GoogleDoc I'd written for him and a couple of other folks who I was actively trying to recruit into playing X-Wing Miniatures with me as a blog. I was a hesitant at first, but as he kept on prodding me, I finally gave up resisting and thought, "Oh, what the hell. Why not?" It'd been several years since I'd had a site or worked on a writing-type project, and a previous idea for a website had fallen through a couple of years back that I'd really put a lot of thought and time into, so I thought maybe if I applied some of the same ideas to this site the result would be solid, fun, and informative. 

Looks like I was at least partially right, huh? :)

So thank my boy Ben in the comments today, as this was all his idea, really. Also thank my boy Sean as he and Ben have been my main sounding boards for not only the article ideas on this site, but also the overall tone, look, and feel for it. They've been great to bounce ideas and stuff off of the past couple of months and I hope will continue to allow me to do so for a long time to come. 

And last but not least, thanks again all of y'all readers. I don't want to get all personal on here, but my actual job kinda sucks and is pretty unfulfilling  but being able to pop on here via my phone a couple times a day and see all these pageviews from all over the world and people saying cool things about the site on their own sites and blogs, various X-Wing and miniatures forums, the comments on here, and the totally surprising and supportive emails I've received...  well, it's nice to be appreciated. I'll just leave it at that. 



14 March 2013

Crew Members- Chewbacca

This post regarding Crew Members 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.

Chewbacca (4)
Card Text: When you are dealt a Damage card, you may immeidately discard that card and recover 1 shield. Then, discard this Upgrade card.

Usage in game: Damage mitigation; "Nuh-uh!" opportunity capitalization
Action?: No

Breakdown: Using even a moderately tooled-up YT-1300 is likely to force you into a 3-ship list. As such, one of the inherent playability issues incurred is keeping those ships alive long enough to even the odds against lists with more ships and their built-in potential to inflict more damage per round.

But I digress.

In any case, Chewbacca as a Crew Member is there to keep your ship on the table just a little bit longer. How much longer? Well, two Damage cards longer to be exact. Receiving a Damage card can trigger Chewie if you want it to, and when it does, it functions in the way you'd expect- you not only discard the Damage card you just received (one Damage card) and get a Shield Token back (two Damage card, ah, ah, ah). For four points, it's a pretty good trade-off; after all, Shield Upgrade by itself is 4 points. Chewbacca gives you the same end result functionality and lets you mitigate a Damage card for the same cost.

So why wouldn't you take Chewie over a Shield Upgrade? 

Well, first and most obviously, you can only take Chewie on a Rebel YT-1300, so everyone else is SOL. Secondly, if you take him as crew, you can't take him as a pilot of the YT-1300. Last, he does take up a Crew Member slot (although, each of the YT-1300 pilots have two Crew Member slots available to them, so this probably isn't an issue). 

One question I've seen floating around on the Rules Questions section of the Forum is does Crew Member Chewbacca mitigate a crit?

Short answer? Yes he does.

A crit is still a Damage card, just a face-up Damage card. If you go through the 7 Combat Steps in the rulebook, you'll see what I'm talking about.

Really, in my mind, there's no downside to this guy. He's very reasonable for the points, even being a one-shot use as he's automatic and doesn't require an Action which makes him a one-shot that 100% goes off unless of course you never get down to your hull. I think you could make Chewbacca 5 or 6 points and I'd probably still take a pretty hard look at him.

Does he work in your list? It's fairly simple to determine- does your YT-1300 get keyed on a lot by the enemy? Chewbacca might just buy you another round to get the odds evened up between your low ship count list and your opponent's higher one. I think a lot of people focus on the damage potential of these ships when they initially start coming up with listbuilds, but I find most people will ultimately be better off focusing more on keeping their ship alive rather than wringing another Attack die out of a build or another re-roll. Find the points and give him a shot sometime. I'd be surprised if you're disappointed.

13 March 2013

Secondary Weapon Systems- Ion Cannon

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.

Ion Cannon (3)
Attack Dice: 3
Range: 1-3
Card Text: If this attack hits, the defender suffers 1 damage then receives 1 ion token. Then cancel all dice results.
Usage in game: Forcing 1 straights and increasing duration of ship stress on enemy ships.
Breakdown: Unsurprisingly, the Ion Cannon functions fairly similarly to the Ion Cannon Turret, which I've already talked about, however there are some fairly significant differences in this Firespray version which demands further discussion.

Looking at those differences, the Rebel version that bolts onto a Y-Wing is a turret, so it has the 360 degree firing arc. This one is not that one. If you're looking for similar functionality, you won't find it here. The Ion Cannon Turret is taken largely to mitigate the relatively poor movement dial options for a Y-Wing, rather than any real benefit from the Ion Token itself ask yourself this- if you could take an Attack 3 Laser Cannon Turret on a Y-Wing for 5 points, would you ever take the Ion?), at least in my experience. The Rebel version is also limited to Range 1-2 whereas this one is Range 1-3.

What's similar? The fact that they're both 3 Attack dice and hand out a single Ion Token if you manage to get a hit against the target while cancelling any other possible hits. That's about it.

So looking at this distinctly Imperial version with a whole different set of selection criteria than the Rebel version where it's practically a no-brainer on the Y-Wing, what's the deeper story with this Ion Cannon? Because right now, being as how you have to score two Ion Tokens on a large ship, it kinda seems a little bit pointless, doesn't it? Let's keep digging.

I don't know how much you've messed around with Ion Cannons, but on-table, perhaps the best application of an Ion weapon isn't to force the other guy's most maneuverable or dangerous ship into making a 1 straight. I mean, yeah, that's cool and all, and some people will even tell you it's invaluable knowing exactly where your enemy will be after the next movement phase. They're not wrong, but they're not 100% all the way right either. 

It is what everyone says though that hasn't messed around with Ion Tokens much, and to be fair, that's most players. The Y-Wing isn't the easiest ship to use, and an Ion Token by itself, is kinda underwhelming, frankly. For more detailed info on Ion Weapons rules, check out the Bikini Battle Basics- Ion Weapons Explained! article.

The text for the Ion Token card says, boiled down, the ship that received an Ion Token can still do Actions and shoot and stuff, and yes, he does have to make a 1 straight maneuver, which is considered to be a white maneuver. This, dear readers, is the big deal about the Ion Token. If you can manage to Ion a ship with a Stress Token, he's going to hang onto that token for at least another turn, which as we all know, is significant because ships with stress (without some sort of special rule) can't perform Actions.

And ships that can't perform Actions get dealt with. And by dealt with, I mean dealt with

Therefore, the best application for an Ion weapon is ionizing a ship with a stress token.

This is why Ion weapons are going to be worth a lot more now that Wave 2 has dropped- because there are lots more ways to either incur Stress voluntarily or get it stuck to you involuntarily than what was present in Wave 1 when it was fairly contextual. The times they are a changin'.

Currently, it's limited to the Firespray, so let's look at pilots. Fett's ability doesn't really do much for it and personally, I feel like if you're going to look at putting an Ion Cannon on Trelix because of his pilot ability, you'd be better served by paying the extra points (if you can find them, obviously) and going with a Heavy Laser Cannon. Four Attack dice at Range 3 with one re-rolling ain't exactly triflin', but if you don't have the points, you don't have the points. Take it if it fits in your list.

Kath Scarlet? No comment. Keep on walkin'.

The other Firespray pilot of course is the generic Bounty Hunter. Is Ion Cannon worth it on him? As you're likely trying to field a cheaper version of a big ship if you're opting for a generic pilot, yeah, it could be. It's much cheaper than the Heavy Laser Cannon. That said, it's not much different than the stock Primary Attack weapon on the Firespray, so it may not be worth it in your list. I've not investigated it myself personally, but I've read about folks fielding dual Firesprays. This might be one way to do that and make it a little more versatile while scoring Ion Tokens on big ships in the process.

12 March 2013

Secondary Weapon Systems- Heavy Laser Cannon

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.

Heavy Laser Cannon (7)
Attack Dice: 4
Range: 2-3
Card Text: Immediately after rolling your attack dice, you must change all of your <crit> results to <hit> results.
Usage in game: Giving you an excuse to say, "From downtown!" (skip ahead to 1:49- this guy is painfully bad) like the NBA Jam announcer. Also, if you have OCD and want to roll 4 Attack dice at all times.
Breakdown: A lot of people, early on, were calling this upgrade an unlimited Proton Torpedoes. They're not far off in that assessment. It's 4 Attack dice at Range 3 as many times as you want. It's also 4 dice at Range 2, and if you're at Range 1? Well, don't use the HLC as it won't work, however, the Firespray-31 Primary is normally Attack 3, so you're still rolling 4 Attack dice. The downside? You lose your crit results if you rolled any, but not entirely- they just become hit results instead.

EDIT: I usually go out of my way to remind people about Secondary Weapon Systems not granting the defender their usual bonus die at Range 3, but I didn't call it out in this article and Bikini Aficionado mhanan called me out on it in the comments. So yeah- if you're bombing in those aforementioned Range 3 HLC bolts, by all means, do not allow your target to roll more than his stock Agility value!

So how significant is that loss of crit results?

In Wave 1, I'd have said, "Not very", and left it at that. However, I think you're going to see a more and more people try and integrate attacks that deal crit results now that Wave 2 is here. "Why now?", you ask?

Because big ships have a lot of hull. And can, if not will, be flying around, shooting up your stuff for at least a few turns without their shields. If you can lay a decent face-up Damage card on one of those guys sooner rather than later, you likely did a whole lot to decrease it's survivability or reduce it's offfensive or maneuvering capabilities.

So as long as folks field big ships, everybody should be doing what they can to inflict critical results on them. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

Ok, so all that crit talk in mind, is HLC a bad choice for a Firespray secondary weapon?

Not at all! Luckily, there's an upgrade, a Crew upgrade, called Mercenary Copilot. He costs 2 points and you get to change one of your hit results into a critical result.

So now I'm looking at 9 points if I want an HLC that can produce critical results? This is starting to feel like signing up for cable or something- I'm getting nickeled and dimed, here.

True. And if it came right down to it, as long as you had some other crit dealers in your list, you'd get a pass from me for not having the Mercenary Copilot jockeying the controls for the HLC. Also, he only works if you're firing at something at Range 3, so take that for what it's worth. If you're the kind of player who likes to rush things forward and get those extra dice at Range 1, I'd skip the Mercenary Copilot, and maybe even the HLC all together as you'd probably be better served with a Shield Upgrade or one of the Bombs or something.

At the end of the day though, if you're one of those players who can resist the siren song of close combat in space, an HLC would serve you well- bombing in 4 attack dice from long range isn't to be underestimated in the hands of someone who's smart with target priority and knows how to maneuver, Mercenary Copilot or not. If you don't take him, take a Firespray pilot with a higher PR and peel off shields while the other members of your squadron inflict the hull damage later in the combat phase. If you do invest in a Mercenary Copilot, you're virtually assured one critical per salvo with the HLC, so stay at Range 3 with a lower PR firespray pilot, and let the opposite happen- fly your higher PR ships in there to eat up shields, then finish them off with the HLC. Hmmm, if only there were a low PR Firespray pilot who had some interesting ability...

Or hell, maybe you're just somebody who loves working in NBA Jam quotes any chance you get, keeping an eye out for anyone who pops their head up, because you know you can now make Tom Gugliotta jokes, and they likely won't go unnoticed.

EDIT: No, you're not crazy. I changed the Condescending Wonka joke after I got to work today, so roughly 150 people saw the previous version, which upon sleep and reflection, was a little more snarky than it needed to be.

11 March 2013

Other Weapon Systems- Seismic Charges

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.

Seismic Charges (2)
Attack Dice: N/A
Range: 1
Card Text: When you reveal your maneuver dial, you may discard this card to drop 1 seismic charge token. This token detonates at the end of the Activiation Phase.
Usage in game: Multiple ship damage, anti-blocking meta mitigation, spoilsport device
Breakdown: Like Proximity Mines, Seismic Charges is kind of it's own little animal, so there are some fairly significant differences between the way it works compared not only with the usual X-Wing Miniatures weapons, but also to the Prox Mine I talked about last week.

First though, the similarities. As with Proximity Mines, the rules pamphlet included with the Slave I model goes out of it's way to explain that Seismic Charges are not secondary weapons, so again- the generic title of Other Weapon Systems in the title of this post applies here as well. It also explains that Seismic Charges are considered a Bomb, so long story short, it is deployed in-game via the Drop mechanic, which is you place the 1 straight maneuver template behind your ship between the nubs, then place the token at the opposite end, between the nubs on the token.

After that, it gets a little different.

As indicated in the card text, a Seismic Charge is placed when you reveal the owning ship's movement dial. Unlike pretty much everything else in this game, this token goes down on the board before you even move your ship that turn and isn't associated with Actions or Attacks in any way; meaning you're free to do both as usual after dropping a Seismic Charge.

The first thing that goes through my head when I read that is, "Ok- so how's Pilot Rank play into this?" The short answer is, as usual, the higher the PR the better. I'll explain why in just a moment.

So as the Seismic Charges token is placed on the board, you then perform the maneuver for the owning ship as selected on your movement dial, so be sure to select a maneuver that's going to get you out of the blast radius of your Seismic Charges. Unlike the Prox Mines, Seismic Charges have a Range of 1, so you actually can hurt yourself with this one, so watch it

EDIT: No, they can't actually. Even performing a straight 1 or 1 bank maneuver will get you out of Range 1 of your Seismic Charge token. I'd read this claim on the FFG forums a couple of days after I wrote this article, meant to pull out the templates to verify, then completely forgot about it until Bikini Aficionado Scott reminded me of the gaffe in the BBB- Ion Weapons Explained! article comments earlier.

All right, so the Charges token is on the table, and you've moved away from it. What now? What makes this thing go off?

Another difference between Seismic Charges and Prox Mines- Seismic Charges detonate at the end of the Activation Phase. Doesn't matter if anyone touches it or not- it's going to go off after everyone has executed their maneuvers, declared Actions and just before the Combat Phase begins, bringing us to the last detail- each ship at Range 1 of the token suffers 1 damage, then the token is discarded.

Ok, so lots of strange stuff happening here- got it. How do we make this thing work for us?

Well, first, to elaborate on the PR question posed earlier, this card works better on a higher PR pilot because if the token is already in play, ships that have additional movements that occur in the Action Phase (Boost, Barrel Roll, Daredevil, etc.), will probably just drive away from the Seismic Charges if at all possible. Ideally, of course, you want to downplay that possibility, so putting it on a higher PR pilot helps in the sense that pilots with those movement options have already declared their Actions for their portions of the Activation Phase, and as such, can't bail out on the blast radius of the Seismic Charge.

Secondly, bear in mind this weapon does automatic damage- no rolling required nor, in fact, allowed. Evade tokens cannot be spent either, which gives us an idea of who and what to use this thing against.

It should go without saying this card works really well on Firespray pilot Boba Fett because of his pilot ability, but any Firespray you've already tacked an Engine Upgrade on (allowing for the Boost movement) should probably be closely looked at for Seismic Charge duty too.

Against a Rebel opponent which has three ships that don't have the greatest maneuver options in the world (the A-Wing of course being the exception) as well as lots of pilot abilities that are ranged-based, I could see a well-timed Seismic Charge damaging multiple ships fairly easily. I could also see it working against one A-Wing in particular, that of course being Arvel Crynyd. You can practically guarantee if you've got a decently tooled-up Firespray on the board that Crynyd will be looking to ram it. With a teensy bit of pre-planning, you ought to be able to drop a Seismic Charge token well within Range 1 of him and still get away without damage. Worst case scenario? Well, even if he bonks into you and you're completely blocked from making your move, you're going to damage him anyway. Remember- the token drops before you even attempt to move your model, which brings up my next point rather nicely.

A lot was said in Wave 1 about the "blocking" meta. That was/ is a technique where a TIE Swarm player moves so many low PR TIEs into your ship's path that he effectively blocks you from where you want to go. Now, as I've mentioned on the FFG forums several times, this meta was not big in my neck of the woods. I don't think anyone at my store ever tried to play a TIE Swarm that way, or to put it another way, if they were, they didn't make it known and it didn't make enough of an impression on me to think, "Oh my God! I just got blocked!"

Here's the part where I enrage half the internet- I don't think blocking meta works. I think it's one of those things the internet people thought of and repeated over and over until people started believing it even though they'd never actually seen it. You know, like mercury poisoning from a broken CFL bulb somebody stepped on barefoot resulting in pictures that are more akin to the effects of necrotizing fasciitis rather than, you know, peripheral neuropathy. Don't laugh- every day the guy who does the general safety orientation where I work gives those exact slides as part of his presentation because he thinks that stupid email was real.

Anyhizzle, that's kind of a whole other topic, but if you were playing an opponent who was trying to employ that blocking meta, dropping a Seismic Charge would be a good way to ding all those TIEs down a peg. Yeah, maybe you bleed off one of your shields in the process, oh well. They just lost a third of their hull.

It always boils down to this- is it worth it? And as usual, I give my typical answer for stuff that isn't entirely straightforward in its usefulness- it might be for you, it might not.

If you regularly play an opponent who gets right up in your face, then yeah, it's totally worth it with a little work at becoming familiar with how to use it effectively. As that's probably a lot of X-Wing Miniatures players, and certainly the vast majority of the TIE Swarm ones, you could potentially get a lot of use out of Seismic Charges.

Additionally, a lot of people, play this game Rebel versus Empire at the friendly level and as such, are used to seeing that other faction across the table. In tournaments though, the pairings are rarely 50/50 like that and you often have the same factions playing against each other. This card is so out of left field in its usage (and even application to a certain extent), I could see it working really, really effectively against an Imperial player because they simply won't be used to reacting to it like the Rebels will. And for only 2 points, automatically pulling hull points off of a couple of Interceptors, especially pilots that are normally tough to hit anyway, makes it totally worth it in my opinion, but as always, your mileage may vary.

EDIT: I was researching Ion Tokens last night for the upcoming article on the new Ion Cannon, when a scenario in which the Seismic Charge could not be dropped- you guessed it, after being ionized.

When you get ionized, if you read that Ion Token card really closely, you don't select a maneuver. If you don't select a maneuver, you can't reveal a maneuver, which is the trigger for the dropping of a Seismic Charge.

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.