31 January 2014

Transport Info Revealed!

In today's Carnor Jax article, aficionado +joseph woodworth mentioned in the comments that FFG just posted some info regarding the upcoming Rebel Transport ship! Here's some of the first glimpses into the rules and stuff governing how these big ships will operate in X-Wing Miniatures. 

We'll talk more about this on Monday! 

Named Pilots: Carnor Jax

This post regarding Named Pilots is part of a larger article regarding Wave 3 listbuilding- the rest of the posts in this series will be available in the coming weeks. For more info, click the "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Carnor Jax (26)
Card Text: Enemy ships at Range 1 cannot perform focus or evade actions and cannot spend focus or evade tokens.

Usage in game: Reminding you how much you didn't like the lite rules for X-Wing Miniatures.
Breakdown: Remember when you got your first X-Wing Miniatures box and you opened it up, drooled over the cool toys you just bought, then started reading the rulebook? Then you grabbed your closest pal, and by closest I mean like in a proximal sense, not like the friend you know best or whatever, wife, or kid and played around with the lite rules?

Remember how friggin' hard it was to hit anything with your guns without Actions?

Well, get ready for a trip down Nostalgia Boulevard, y'all- Carnor Jax is bringin' sexy back.

Anybody who has played or read about X-Wing for any length of time has undoubtedly run across the many Named Pilots who have area of effect type abilities. Howlrunner and Biggs were perhaps the two most famous candidates of this sort of thing in Wave 1, but there have been tons of others. Most of those guys affect their buddies, but a few like Carnor Jax, actually have an effect on the enemy.

Examining his card text, I'm feeling obligated to remind the newer players about the difference between Perform Action and spending a token before we look at the rule closely. Actions sometimes are confusing for new players, but to sum it up succinctly, in the Activation Phase, when you get to choose which Action you want to do, that's the Perform Action step. It's the part where you're dropping the token next to your ship on the table or whatever, dig? Later on in the turn, when you decide to use the token to modify a die roll or remove a hit result or whatever, that's when you spend your token. Two pretty different things, but sometimes folks kind of get them run together in their head. Don't do that. First you Perform your Action, second you spend your token. Simple, huh?

Ok, so enemies at Range 1 of Carnor can't pick Focus or Evade for their Action in the Perform Action step- that's what the first part of the card text is telling us. How big of a deal is that? Well, maybe not quite as bad as you think. As Jax is PS 8, he'll likely be one of the last ships to move in the round, so your lower PS ships can either fly a little less aggressively and stay out of Range 1 of him in which case they still get to Perform Action before he moves, or if they start their Activation Phase next to Jax, they (hopefully) have opted to move away from him.

Doesn't seem so bad, right? Well, here's the bad news: the second part of his card text states that any ship at Range 1 also can't spend Focus or Evade tokens. So even if you've managed to get a token tossed to you by Lando or Garven Dreis or somebody with Squad Leader or whatever, you can have it, but you can't spend it.

To sum up simply, enemy ships at Range 1 of Carnor Jax aren't going to be using Focus or Evade to help themselves out.

When we were talking about Kir Kanos the other day, +Jason Jones noted you could just pretty much leave him out at range and use him to bomb shots into the action. Thinking about that kind of role along with a ship like Carnor Jax flying at the tip of the arrowhead really makes me look at the Imperial Aces in kind of another light- the self contained squadron. Sure, you'll need to buy two copies of the box (like you weren't anyway, right?), but just flying a couple of the Named Aces Pilots together along with Royal Guardsmen or whatever is going to give you a pretty diversely capable little squadron.

Jax apparently being kind of a big deal amongst the red guys has access to Elite Pilot Skills. Being somebody who is likely to have a very big bullseye on his ship for the other side, you may want to pick something that helps him stay alive longer. That said, he has such awesome offensive upside, ostensibly getting to fire on ships without Focus or Evade available to modify their die rolls, you could just as easily, and probably just as effectively, up his offensive capabilities and come out ahead too. Long story short? I don't know if there's a bad direction to go in with this guy. As his ability isn't an Action and he doesn't have any references to Stress in his card text, you gotta put Push The Limit on this guy. Giving him two Actions while (hopefully) his target has limited Action options is going to work out for him a heckuva lot more than normal.

Admittedly, if you're playing Carnor Jax you still will need to mind Falcons with Gunners or long range specialists like B-Wings or Firesprays hanging back and lobbing in shots, and pilots with Marksmanship or Expose and stuff like that, the common pilots are going to in general, have much less success against you. And as a lot of folks like to fly common pilots, especially in swarmy type lists, Jax will likely have a great deal of success early. Well into conjecture here, but as Imperial Aces will almost certainly be added into the Tournament Rules before Regionals, I'd look pretty hard at some lists that feature Named Pilots with card text that helps die rolls in one way or another- Mithel, Backstabber, Dark Curse, Wedge, Luke, The Reverened Horton Salm, Solo, Ibtisam, Trelix, etc., etc. Those guys will still operate relatively normally against Carnor Jax, regardless of Range. Guys that kinda sorta live and die by the "common" Actions- Dreis, Night Beast, Fel, Lando, the common pilots, etc. will need to learn some new tricks to cope.

Jax can, of course utilize Modifications. Being a guy who likes to get in close, any of the survivability/ durability mods- Stealth Device, Shield Upgrade, or Hull Upgrade can help out here, but if you've ever flown against a veteran TIE Interceptor player, you know the closer you get to them, the harder they are to keep in your firing arc, so don't get lazy just because you took a Shield Upgrade- Barrel Rolling and Boosting are still likely to be your best and most often used defensive measures.

Last thing about Jax- don't sell yourself short with him. Everybody is going to remember his card text when it directly comes into play with Jax and an enemy ship. What I think some folks are going to forget is if Jax is within Range 1 of an enemy ship and somebody else fires on that enemy ship, the enemy ship still cannot use Focus or Evade tokens against that, or any other attack on them while Jax is within Range 1.

30 January 2014

Named Pilots: Tetran Cowall

This post regarding Named Pilots is part of a larger article regarding Wave 3 listbuilding- the rest of the posts in this series will be available in the coming weeks. For more info, click the "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Tetran Cowall (24)
Card Text: When you reveal a <K-Turn symbol>, you may treat the speed of that maneuver as 1, 3, or 5.

Usage in game: When you really, really, really want to turn around.
Breakdown: The thing that jumped out at me most about Tetran Cowall, besides his ultra-successful TV production career with singing competition reality shows, is the price on his card. It wasn't his card text, it wasn't his PS, it was his cost.

24 points.

Sound familiar? Yeah, our old pal Kir Kanos is the same price. Without the extra point of PS and without the Elite Pilot Skills. As I've not played either of these cats yet, it's hard for me to say if anybody is overcosted or undercosted, but it just raised an eyebrow is what I'm saying.

So Cowall's card text more or less affords him not only an additional speed option on K-Turns (the 1 speed), but he can pull kind of a Navigator lite and pick the speed at which he wants to K-Turn (1, 3, or 5) regardless of which K-Turn is actually showing on his dial.

Not only is that a pretty cool trick, he's still relatively cheap so you shouldn't feel like you're needing to K-Turn every other turn to get your points back on him. He's only two points more than a Royal Guard Interceptor which has 1 less PS.

As mentioned, Cowall has access to Elite Pilot Skills. If you don't want to directly clash with his card text, you don't want stuff that's going to Stress him out as it's quite possible you'll already have a Stress Token from a K-Turn in your movement phase. That's a bummer mainly because a lot of the good Elite Pilot Skills cause Stress. That said, I think you can get some mileage out of old school hits like Marksmanship or Determination, but I like the idea of Veteran Instincts on Cowall quite a lot as that variable length K-Turn ought to go a long way into getting behind somebody- so why not move last or close to it?

As pointed out in the comments below, I'd originally kinda screwed this article up- grabbing my Slave I dial rather than an Interceptor dial and getting all messed up about the card text. I also talked myself out of Adrenaline Rush as a good Elite Pilot Skill for Cowall, but a few of the regulars around here have talked me into it again.

I think that Cowall could be a good candidate for that new Targeting Computer Modification. Like we talked about above on Veteran Instincts, there's probably a good chance Cowall is going to be K-Turning his socks off for much of the game, and with any luck, he's going to be behind the enemy squadron most of that time. Since Evading and Focusing probably won't be quite as much of a priority unless he's flying against a bunch of ships with turrets, maybe maximize that 3 Attack dice and invest in the Targeting Computer Mod. If you're not nuts about that, you can always go with the old standbys Stealth Device or Shield Upgrade or punt, take Royal Guard Title and slot two (different) Mods on Simon.

I think Cowall will see quite a lot of action in the days to come because he's a fairly forgiving pilot from a movement and cost perspective. As I've said on here before, I think generally speaking you shouldn't rely on K-Turns too much, but for many new players starting out, the K-Turn can be an effective method to correct a movement mistake. As such, I think Cowall is a great pick for a new player. This isn't to say you Vets can't get any mileage out of him, but I think he'll likely to end up on the short list of everybody's favorite Interceptor pilots alongside Turd Ferguson.

29 January 2014

Named Pilots: Kir Kanos

This post regarding Named Pilots is part of a larger article regarding Wave 3 listbuilding- the rest of the posts in this series will be available in the coming weeks. For more info, click the "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Kir Kanos (24)
Card Text: When attacking at Range 2-3, you may spend one evade token to add one <filled explosion symbol> to your roll.

Usage in game: Very contextual smackdown when necessary.
Breakdown: Kir Kanos is another mid-PS Royal Guard Interceptor pilot like yesterday's article subject, Lieutenant Lorrir (damned lot of alliteration going on in these Named Pilot Guardsmen so far, huh?). They're relatively similar in cost with Kanos being a single point more for one more point of Pilot Skill and very different card text.

Digging into that card text, it's almost like FFG was listening to all those MathWing folks talk about why Evading was almost always a bad choice compared to Focus. If you ever had trouble choosing between Evading and Focusing, your decision is about to get even tougher with Kir Kanos in your squadron.

You kinda want to skim over the way this rule really works seeing that it's Range 2-3 only and adds a hit, y'know? It's almost like, "Oh, ok- so he burns an Evade and he's effectively Range 1 at all times." Right? No? Just me? Aiight then, fair enough. That's how my brain broke it down the first time I read it. Upon closer inspection though, it's a little different than that.

Note first you're not adding an Attack die like you would at Range 1, you're actually adding a hit result to your roll. That's actually pretty interesting, huh? Not a ton of auto-hits in this game. Spending an Evade is always going to net your Attack roll at least one hit in your Attack. Of course, it also means you could register up to four hits (or three crits and a hit I guess) total at Range 2 or Range 3 which is pretty awesome considering it's pretty repeatable so long as you've got an Evade Token handy.

That's what's so awesome about this guy though- how many times have you Focused and not needed it at all because either you didn't roll any eyeballs or nobody shot at you and you hit with all your Attack dice? I'm not saying it happens all the time, but I've turned in a pretty fair share of Focus Tokens during the End Phase and I'm guessing you lot likely have as well. Kanos though? No reason to ever take an Evade Token into the End Phase unless your only target was destroyed. You're not looking for a particular die result to trigger his card text- you're just automatically adding a hit result to your roll. Adding. Not modifying or rerolling, adding. That's huge. Especially on a pilot this cheap in an Interceptor.

So realizing this card text is pretty awesome, maybe the question becomes, how likely are you to still have your Evade token?

Well, Kanos is PS6, so there's a good chance a ship or two has already fired on him before it gets to be his turn in the Combat Phase. You might still have it, you might not, but that's kind of the beauty of the way his card text is written- it's always going to be up to you. If you've got some beefy enemy ship you just gotta, gotta, gotta get some hits in on, maybe you hang on to that Evade token instead of spending it earlier in the round, y'know? Take a hit or two for the team to make a big play later on. Or heck, maybe you just play every Combat Phase by ear and burn the token on defense if you need to and if you don't, you burn it to shoot up somebody. It's not like Kanos is like massively overcosted to the point where you don't feel like you're getting your money's worth if you don't use his card text every single time.

Also like Lorrir, Kanos has an empty upgrade bar, so no Elite Pilot Skills for him- just Mods. As is the case with other Interceptors, Stealth Device is a good idea, and you've always got the possibility of picking a second mod with the addition of a Royal Guard Title to Kanos' ship. Is it worth it? As usual, it all depends. Like Lorrir, it makes him pretty expensive for such a middle-of-the-road PS Named Pilot, but the longer he's alive, the more damage he's going to do, so there's a line of thought that supports it. Me personally, I think always taking that Evade and just kind of going with the notion that if I use it on defense before it gets to be my turn to shoot isn't the end of the world, I'd probably keep him cheaper and just go with a Stealth Device alone. He's hard to hit as is just being in an Interceptor. Add on the extra die while SD still functions and an Evade Token and I think you've got what you need to keep him flying around for a good long while.

Pairing up Kanos with Colonel Jendon doesn't sound like a terrible idea, but as his Target Lock passing ability only works out to Range 1, I wouldn't expect to get a ton of mileage out of it. Really though, do you need it with this guy? Me personally, I'd dust off that Vader with Squad Leader combo we all rolled at least once back in the day and just have them fly around together knockin' heads and fill in the rest of the squadron with anything else that piqued my interest that day. Let Vader burn off their shields and maybe Kanos can finish the job, y'know? Another more subtle combo would be to team him up with Yorr so even when Kanos pulls the odd K-Turn, he can still Perform Action Evade.

In a weird way, I think Kanos sort of justifies the use of Arvel Crynyd in more Rebel squadrons as he's kind of the natural counter to Kanos. Admittedly, getting an Interceptor to bonk into your A-Wing isn't exactly child's play, but doing so negates Kanos' Perform Action step and while somebody with Squad Leader can still throw him an Action, it does disrupt the plans. Of course, a YT-1300 would be a good candidate for this kind of work too with its huge base, but I would rather have Crynyd Action-less than a YT. Really though, you're probably just going to have to pour a ton of shots into him or use Ten Numb with the en vogue Elite Pilot Skills and upgrades, or some Solo + Gunner combo to ding Kanos reliably.

28 January 2014

Named Pilots: Lieutenant Lorrir

This post regarding Named Pilots is part of a larger article regarding Wave 3 listbuilding- the rest of the posts in this series will be available in the coming weeks. For more info, click the "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Lieutenant Lorrir (23)
Card Text: When performing a barrel roll action, you may receive 1 stress token to use the <1 bank left> or <1 bank right> instead of the <1 straight> template.

Usage in game: Some tricky, tricky, tricky tr-r-r-r-icky barrel rollin'.
Breakdown: All right, let's get this out of the way right now. Y'all know I'm an American, but be that as it may, I will absolutely be referring to Lieutenant Lorrir as Lef-ten-ant Lorrir. Don't ask why exactly, just accept it.

Right on, so the good lieutenant is pretty close to being a Saber Squadron Interceptor (yeah, I know, he's even closer to being a Royal Guard, but more people are going to get that he's close to being a Saber) with a couple of key differences- first, he's two points more expensive, of course. Second, he has one higher PS and then there's his card text. Fourth, unlike the Saber, he does not have access to Elite Pilot Skills.

So is his card text worth it- that's really what this boils down to, right?

Lucky for us (well, me at least), the good folks at FFG have a handy diagram they made to visually explain his card text for us-

I like this diagram because it not only shows Lorrir's move, but it also gives a pretty good idea of what a regular barrel roll would do for you too. 

If you're thinking that Lorrir's card text allows a ton of flexibility, you'd be right. Like I've said on here before, having a lot of contextual options can be a really good thing in X-Wing. The bummer with Lorrir is that he doesn't have Elite Pilot Skills, which is probably a good thing as giving him something like Push the Limit would probably be way too over the top. 

As it stands, I think Lorrir could easily work as a roamer, kind of away from the action, picking off wounded members of the herd. With the Interceptor's dial and his Barrel Rolling shenanigans, he's going to be hard to get by and even tougher to get off your tail. That said, do keep in mind that if you do decide to use his card text (and I'm pretty sure it'd be out of bounds to lay down the bank template, find out you don't have a shot, then decide to use the straight 1), you incur Stress. Of course, if you pair him up with what must be his best friend and drinkin' buddy Captain Yorr, that's not such a big deal, is it? I mean, sure- trying to keep an Interceptor near the ol' flyin' brick isn't going to be easy, but you can just always take the Stress and use one of the Interceptor's 7(!) green maneuvers to get rid of it the traditional way next round. 

While Lorrir's upgrade bar is as empty as The Metal Bikini on Sunday morning, you do still have access to Modifications and of course, being as how he's PS 5, the Royal Guard Title, which for uh, FREE(!), gives you the ability to stock two Mods on your ship. Lotta commas in that sentence. Oxford and then some, huh? Apologies, y'all. 

The Royal Guard Title stipulates you can't stock the same Mod twice, but that's not such a big deal. You know how often your choice of Mods comes down to Stealth Device or Shield Upgrade? Well, now you don't have to choose- you can have both. Of course, you gotta pay points on both, and I'm sure there's a pretty valid line of thinking that says spending 30 points on a PS5 ship isn't likely to be the best idea you've had all day, but those guys have probably never tried to down a TIE Interceptor with 4 Agility, 1 Shield and the Barrel Rollin' options that Lorrir provides (Note- I still like both of those over Hull Upgrade in this specific instance). Not having played with or against him I'm going to reserve the right to be dead wrong about this guy, but from where I sit he looks pretty nasty even without the dual Mods.

Who does it work for best? If you're a longtime Interceptor player, especially one of those cats that played a list with Turd Ferguson, Fel, and Vader and got used to Barrel Rolling your way out of trouble, I think you're going to get a lot of mileage out of the good lieutenant. If not, you probably won't see the point. 

BoLS- Gamewire is Up and Running!

As most of y'all know, I've been writing and re-posting some of my articles for Larry over on BoLS for awhile now. He's got a new service up and running and I did the crappy, ungrateful thing and totally forgot to post anything about it until tonight. 

So what is BoLS Gamewire

From L-Train's Gamewire FAQ

The BoLS Gamewire is a wargames and miniatures news syndicator, designed to get breaking manufacturer news directly to the wargaming public. It is a viral news syndication platform that lets manufacturers reach hundreds of thousands of real world readers across a network of wargaming and miniatures websites at the touch of a button – all for free.

The dude's a genius. I'm not even joking when I say that. If I had my head up even half as much as that guy, I wouldn't be working stupid-crazy hours in the factory. For reals. 

If you're not sure what Larry's gone and done here, unless I'm reading it wrong, I think he's basically just made himself the Associated Press of the wargaming industry. 

Congrats, Larry- well done you!

27 January 2014

This Week: Imperial Aces Extravaganza!

As I'm sure y'all recall, back in September, it was announced that FFG was going to release a special, two-ship expansion for the Empire called Imperial Aces. 

Speculation rode rampant on the internets and in FLGS all over the place as we all hoped against hope that FFG would release the set for Christmas as many of us are "those guys" who are into all kinds of odd stuff and are "hard to buy for." 

Alas, that was not to be. 

Those of us who have bought FFG product (including this one) for awhile, look at release dates with kind of a tired skepticism- a bit like that friend of yours who always has some can't miss cockamamie get rich quick scheme idea. 

Anyway, almost as if in the form of a non-verbal apology, FFG released some more info on Imperial Aces back on 2 January. 

And the email came flooding in. What did I think about this pilot? Had I heard about this Modification? But of course, the most important question- when will it be released? 

Well, I still don't know. Unfortunately, even though I do all this writing and you guys come by here all the time, I still don't get any inside info from FFG or anything. More or less, I usually know what you know- with the slight exception of having dozens of you guys emailing me when some kind of X-Wing news does break (which is awesome, by the way- it's much appreciated and keep it up, please!). 

What I can tell you is that the expansion is "On the Boat." 

What exactly does that mean? Well, they're on the boat from the factory, I guess. FFG says they could be coming from China, Germany, or here in the States, depending and that this step can take 4 to 6 weeks. I have no idea when the status of Imperial Aces went to On the Boat, so I can't say when that 4 to 6 weeks might expire, but they're supposed to be released Q1, so that could be anywhere from tomorrow to what, March? For what it's worth, Wave 2 had a Q1 release after it was all said and done, and those came out right around my birthday which is 3 March. I was talking about it on here if you're really curious as to the exact date. 

So after On the Boat, there are two more steps- Shipping Now, which as you'd expect is the distribution after the miniatures arrive at FFG in Minnesota and In Stores Now which should be self-explanatory. 

I figure though since I've finally wrapped up the Wave 3 stuff, now would be a fun time to kill a week talking about Imperial Aces, so the next four days I'll be talking about each of the named pilots in my usual TMB style. I don't know if all of the upgrade cards have been fully revealed, and I'm very curious about the scenario that's included as it seems to point towards a newer TIE model, so I'm sure we'll still have stuff to talk about once the ball really drops and we all get these fighters in our hands, but we can at least run through the spoiled named pilots and talk about fun ways we can roll them in our own Imperial Squadrons. 

This Year's Regionals and Stuff Announced

As my current job eats up pretty much all my time, I've not really kept up with the X-Wing Tournament scene, but my buddy Sean made it to WinterWar this weekend and was texting me about a tournament that Armored Gopher is having on 22 February that we're going to try to hit. 

When he told me about it, he mentioned it was a Regional and I thought, "Wow- they're doing X-Wing Regionals much earlier this year." After some Googling though, it's not a Regional, it's a Store Championship, which left me wondering what the hell all this was about. 

Back in November, FFG announced they were expanding their Organized Play into Store Championships while also keeping their Regionals format. After perusing both articles, I think I have my head around it. 

Ok, remember last year how Regionals was kind of a mess? I mean, it kinda was and it kinda wasn't, and I don't mean to sound like I'm hating or anything, and it was (I think) the first time they'd ever really done it for X-Wing, but apparently FFG wanted to address it too or they wouldn't have gone and changed things up, so I don't really think I'm talking out of school saying that. 

Right, so the Store Championships are kinda like the old Regionals. What I mean by that is stores apply for the kit and pay their dough and all that just like Regionals last year. They're limited to 32 players and have FFG prize support, as well as offering the winner a bye into the Regionals tournaments that will happen later in the year (1 May to 31 July, which I think is the same as last year's). 

That said, I don't think there's anything keeping somebody who didn't get first at a Store Championship from playing in a Regional or anything, but as they imply that there will be fewer Regionals this year, I think it's safe to assume you won't necessarily just walk into a Regional and get to play like last year. Could be wrong, it's still early, the wording is a little vague, and I'm kinda worn out so take all of this for what it's worth. 

Where am I getting that? 

In the Regionals article, they have that map graphic and the paragraph above says, "... Each region will host no more than two Regionals..." Paraphrasing a bit there, but you get the gist, right? As there are 8 regions in the U.S., we're looking at a max of 16 Regionals Tournaments. If X-Wing is kinda dead in your area, you might have a decent shot at getting into a Regionals without a Store Championship win, but I sure wouldn't count on it. 

So basically, I think the Store Championship is there to try and be the first step into going to Nationals. If you win there, you get to play at your Regionals, which will earn you a bye into a Nationals Tournament, which I guess is the step prior to Worlds? Didn't even know about that business, of course I came in last at a Regionals with like 6 people, two of whom I don't think ever played the game before, so I'm not exactly the Subject Matter Expert, y'know? 

Long story long, if you're wanting to compete in X-Wing, better start looking around at these Store Tournaments. If it says actual dates somewhere, I apologize for not finding it. All I see is "Febaruary through March." 

Make your plans, aficionados! And if any of y'all decide to play at the Gopher, maybe we can battle for who will come in last, yo! 

And for God's sake, read up on Tournament Etiqutte (and Protocol) parts 1 and 2 by yours truly. :) 


23 January 2014

Named Pilots- Garnet Roark

This post regarding Named Pilots is part of a larger article regarding Wave 3 listbuilding- the rest of the posts in this series will be available in the coming weeks. For more info, click the "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Roark Garnet (19)
Card Text: At the start of the combat phase, choose 1 other friendly ship at Range 1-3. Until the end of the phase, treat that ship's pilot skill value as 12.

Usage in game: Hmmm... Let's see. I want you to shoot first. Really resisting the urge to make a "Pikachu- I choose you!", joke here. It's a good thing there's no named Rebel pilots with a name that rhymes with Pika- oh wait... TYCHO CELCHU- I CHOOSE YOU!
Breakdown: Let's say for a moment that you're still fairly new to X-Wing Miniatures. You're not like brand spankin', still lookin' up rules every turn new, but you're still fairly new. You read about lists on the internet, they feature a lot of snazzy Named Pilots with synergtastic awesomeness, but stuff like Pilot Skill still kind of trips you up a bit and you have a little trouble making those lists work for you.

So you decide to try to get back to basics: learn to fly, learn to manage your PS better, stuff like that. You start taking no-name pilots to clear the waters while you focus on learning the fundamentals of the game.

Sounds great, but your buddy who has a little bit more of a hang on the game than you do keeps rolling those Named Pilots and keeps on shooting your ships out of the firmament before they even get a chance to return fire.

Well, pop quiz hotshot. What do you do?

You head for Fantasy Island. Er, Mr. Roark. Er, Garnet Roark.

Mr. Roark is a great stepping stone ship for the newer player looking to take his new found game to the next level. He's not super expensive, his card text is pretty easy to get off, and he allows you to address mistakes or the unexpected from the opponent.

Tearing apart his card text is pretty simple- if you've got a ship within Range 3 of Roark, that ship is eligible to fire at PS12 (probably first, in other words) for that round.

Nice, huh?

No Action required, so it doesn't matter if you bonked into an asteroid or your own wingmen. Works out to Range 3, which surely isn't too hard to hit, and it just always happens at the start of the Combat Phase automatically.

Unfortunately, I don't have the free time that I used to have for keeping up with the messageboards and stuff. I'm sure there are folks out there, maybe veteran type folks even, who roll this guy in a list with a bunch of generic pilots in a loose ring around Roark, naming a different ship each round to fire first. You ask me, that's a great idea. Imagine a couple of low PS X-Wings with some Proton Torpedoes, maybe a Y-Wing or an A-Wing just for fun, and Mr. Roark. I don't know about you, but firing off torpedoes at PS12 isn't something that happens a lot around my neck of the woods and is sure to catch some people off guard.

If nothing else, dig on the fact that you can focus on getting one low PS ship, which will move very early in the movement round of course, have the potential to turn around and get to fire first because of Mr. Roark. That's pretty awesome, really because it just upsets the way the game was made to be played. You move early, you don't have to worry nearly as much about running into another ship and all that business, and you get to turn around and fire first? Cool. If you've got several ships in range when the combat round starts, that's gotta get into your opponent's head, no?

Speaking of running into other ships... what about teaming up Mr. Roark with a certain A-Wing pilot who just loooooves to crash into stuff? Hmmm... Seems fun to me.

Of course, if you really want to have some fun, pair Mr. Roark up with a Green Squadron A-Wing sporting Swarm Tactics for his Elite Pilot Skill. Combat Phase starts and Roark makes Greenie PS 12. Greenie kicks on his Swarm Tactics and now a ship within Range 1 of him is now PS12, right? Whoa. Not impressed? What about a Chewie Falcon instead of Greenie? It could happen.

I've talked a lot on here about not making these support ships too juicy of a target- that's what I probably love the most about Mr. Roark: he's just some tough piece of meat. He's only 19 points, so he really doesn't get you very close to the magical 33 even if your opponent does down him. Secondly, having one ship fire at PS 12 doesn't seem like that big of a deal when you're reading his card text. It's more subtle than a card text like Wedge or Han or even somebody like Jan Ors, for example. Lastly, he's flying what's gotta be the least scary ship in the Rebel fleet. He's perfect for this kind of work.

As for kitting him out, it's more or less the same feelings I've had about the other HWK pilots- the Attack value is terrible on that ship and the maneuver dial makes it hard to legitimately dogfight the already more maneuverable Imperials, so while you have the room points-wise to get a little offensive, keep it under control, huh? Add in an Ion Cannon Turret if you're feelin' frisky, or maybe a Blaster Turret, the Moldy Crow title, and a Recon Specialist in the passenger seat. 

Y'all know I tend to lean more towards not getting my stuff killed rather than how much stuff they can kill, so I'm going more for stuff to keep Mr. Roark on the board, personally. I'd leave those turrets at home and throw on a Stealth Device. Looking at Crew Members, stuff like Chewbacca stands out as always- the reigning MVP of keeping stuff in the air, Nien Nunb is a cheap crowd pleaser, and just for the LOLs, I'd consider sticking a Saboteur in with Roark every once in awhile too. I figure eventually, your buddy is going to realize he does need to key on Roark early despite whatever else you've got zooming around, and when he does, if you've managed to stick him with a card or two, then when he closes to fire on you, give him the ol' Champ Kind Whammy!

Named Pilots- Kyle Katarn

This post regarding Named Pilots is part of a larger article regarding Wave 3 listbuilding- the rest of the posts in this series will be available in the coming weeks. For more info, click the "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Kyle Katarn (21)
Card Text: At the start of the combat phase, you may assign one of your Focus tokens to another friendly ship at range 1-3.

Usage in game: Getting your buddies Focused.
Breakdown: Finally I get to Mr. Dark Forces himself, Kyle Katarn.

All right, you know the routine here- we've been talking about it since like, May. Katarn's card text states that he can pass one of his Focus Tokens to a pal at Range 1-3. 

1. You stick Recon Specialist on him so that he can generate an extra Focus Token each time he Performs one. 
2. You stick the Moldy Crow title on so that he doesn't lose these extra Focus Tokens at the end of the turn.
3. ?????
4. Profit.

Ostensibly, Katarn is generating faster than he's consuming and you end up on a pile of Focus Tokens ol' brother Kyle can throw around like so much candy at a Christmas parade.

That really is pretty solid. I keep thinking one of these nights I'm going to sit down and revamp that list I made that spreadsheet for. Like a Lando, Dreis, Katarn list and just throw Focus Actions around all over the place. And hey, why not? It's the most versatile Action in the game. Even without some weird, Focus-centric list you can still get some good use out of Katarn. Especially with ships that are usually trying to choose between Focus and some other Action- like a X-Wing with R2-F2, or an A-Wing, for instance.

Since Kyle does what he does so well, it's kinda tough to talk about other stuff that works with him. Going through the motions though...

If I was ever going to use a Blaster Turret, it'd be on Katarn. Takes a Focus to fire it? So what? I'm Kyle Katarn, baybee! Here again, I think you can make a case for Adrenaline Rush or Engine Upgrade to help overcome the fairly lame-ass maneuver dial though it's probably not necessary if you invested in the Blaster Turret. Elusiveness can work here, but ideally you want to keep Kyle unstressed and cool as he needs to Perform Action Focus to trigger his card text. For this same reason, I wouldn't consider Elite Pilot Skills that will Stress him out like Push The Limit. If you're really feeling generous and giving away a free Focus every turn isn't doing it for you anymore, you can always look into Squad Leader, though remember- you have to Focus to get a Focus. Determination I think is a good investment with the HWK-290 only having a single point of Shields.

As in the Jan Ors article, if you want to keep Kyle alive longer, Modifications are always an easy way to do that. Also as in the Jan article, I think you can make a case either way for Stealth Device or Shield Upgrade, but I lean towards Stealth because it makes the HWK a 3 Agility ship and if you're hanging back passing Focus tokens and finishing off those already damaged enemy ships, you're probably getting four green dice every once in awhile because of an intervening asteroid or being at Range 3.

22 January 2014

Named Pilots- Jan Ors

This post regarding Named Pilots is part of a larger article regarding Wave 3 listbuilding- the rest of the posts in this series will be available in the coming weeks. For more info, click the "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Jan Ors (25)
Card Text: When another friendly ship at Range 1-3 is attacking, if you have no stress tokens, you may receive one stress token to allow that ship to roll 1 additional attack die.

Usage in game: The rich man's Expose? Well, kinda.
Breakdown: Ok, much like Jendon grabbed a lot of Yorr's rightful headlines when the Wave 3 stuff leaked, everybody's favorite late-bloomer Jedi Kyle Katarn stole a lot of Jan's thunder. Now, I'm not saying Katarn's bad, I'm saying Jan is a little more subtle, but much scarier in the hands of a solid opponent.

Taking apart her special rule, you've more or less got a portable Expose with the downside of Jan having to get a Stress token when she uses this ability. This isn't totally inconsequential as the lame-ass HWK-290 dial only has four green maneuvers, but looking closely, it's pretty small price to pay all the same.

First, note that this triggers on the other ship attacking, so as long as that attacking ship is within a stick of Jan, you can use her ability assuming she's not already stressed out. No futzing about with Actions means you don't have to worry about her bonking into anything and losing the ability or having to pre-plan a bunch because of Pilot Skill shenanigans. Nope- so long as she is Stress free, you're good to go.

Second, unlike Expose, Jan's ability gives that special someone an extra Attack die regardless of whether they're using a Primary or a Secondary. So long as they're attacking, they get another red die. Dig on that business for a second, right? HLC on a B-Wing? Yup, 5 dice. Advanced torpedoes shot out of that Y-Wing your opponent made fun of you for dropping on the table? Yeah- 6 dice, sucka. Wedge? You get the idea.

That kind of force multiplication isn't going to go unnoticed for long.

So whaddaya do to keep this benefit on the table for as long as possible?

The first crew member I tried with Jan was Nien Nunb. If Jan's doing her job, she's going to be Stressed out all the time. Now, admittedly, Nien Nunb only nets you two more additional green maneuvers (a straight 3 and a straight 4), but for only 1 point, I think you can make a case for it. I think a case could be made for Chewbacca as well, but at four points, he's a little rich for my tastes, though you might get some mileage out of him. I think where you can really get some good mileage is Flight Instructor. He's not exactly what you'd call cheap, but Jan's got that PS8, so it's not out of the question she'll be rerolling an eyeball or a blank for free more than just once in awhile. I wouldn't lean on it too hard and expect to live through it, but if you know your opponent is going to go after her like crazy, I think it's the best Crew Member option you can give her.

This isn't to say that Recon Specialist or Navigator or whatever other Crew Member can't be used with Jan, but I think people are either going to key on her like crazy right off the bat or pretty much ignore most of the match, so as is the case with most support ships, I'd try to either maker her more survivable or keep her cheap to make her a lower target priority for your opponent.

As y'all probably already know, the HWK only has a single Attack die which is good for pretty much nothing. Oh sure, everybody's got that story about that one time you killed Vader or Fett or whoever with your HWK, but it isn't something you should be banking on as part of your game strategy and I kinda don't think it's even worth trying to overcome with upgrades, Elite Pilot Skills, or turrets. Her ability doesn't affect herself, and I just don't think it's worth the points trying to overcome it. Now, usual caveat of your mileage may vary applies, but I think you're better off just trying to keep her on the table using that awesome card text rather than bringing her knife to a gunfight.

With that line of thinking coupled up with the idea of keeping her cheap, there's not a ton of viable Elite Pilot Skills to talk about here. I think Determination is a good idea as HWK's only have that single point of Shields, so you've got a good chance to actually make Determination pay off and in an emergency (and because there are so few EPS to really choose from for Jan) I think you could even make a case for Adrenaline Rush. Sure, it's not going to do you any good if she's already Stressed, but it does allow you to pull some wacky stunts if you've got somebody all over her like a wet blanket and you need her for another round or two. Can a case be made for a combination of Veteran Instincts along with something like Navigator or Intelligence Agent? Sure- with Jan's already high PS, you might just be able to avoid getting fired upon at all, which of course is the best defense ever. That will probably depend on your local meta- if you fly against a lot of Swarms or your opponent is good at setting up overlapping fire fields, I wouldn't even bother, but in some cases and some locales, I could see that working. Old staples like Push The Limit or Elusiveness ought to be avoided like the plague here just like any other EPS or upgrades that have earning a Stress Token as the detriment. I'll say though- if at some point in Wave 4 they introduce some Modification or Crew Member that can make a Stress Token disappear, I'll really need to update this article.

Speaking of Modifications, if you've gone cheap on the Crew Member and Elite Pilot Skills, you might have the points left for a Mod. The Moldy Crow title isn't nearly as cool on Jan as it is on Katarn of course, and for three points it isn't exactly an auto-include, but look- with that 1 Attack, Target Locking is totally pointless, so you'll probably be Focusing whenever you have the opportunity anyway, right? Might as well pile them up. The old standbys Shield Upgrade and Stealth Device are possibilities as usual, but unusually, I honestly don't know which one I'd pick. Normally, looking at the 2 Agility, I'd say take Shield Upgrade, but as HWKs only have 1 shield point anyway, it kinda seems pointless to pay four points just to get to 2 Shields. Your ability to keep Jan away from the action but close enough to be a boon to her pals should probably be the criteria you weigh here more than anything, but you can always choose to punt instead and take Engine Upgrade. If you're decent at Boosting, it's not a terrible idea if you've got the points. Jan's going to be Performing Actions after a lot of the opponent's ships have already moved, so you could try and use it to Boost out of somebody's Range 1 or Boost out of their firing arc entirely. It's not helping to lose Stress, but there again- if the choice comes down to giving somebody an extra die or living to fight another round, the latter might be worth it depending on the situation.

As I'm kind of late wrapping up these Wave 3 named pilots I'm sure this has already occured to y'all if you've not already flown it or flown against it, but back when Wave 3 first came out, Sean rolled Jan alongside a Chewie Falcon and gave me fits the entire match. Talk about your rocks and hard places, man. Sheesh. Me being me, I decided to ignore her and just pour fire into Chewie hoping I'd down him quick then clean up whatever else was flying around. Totally didn't work. I don't know if anything would have ultimately turned out different had I gone after Jan right off the bat and left Chewie alone for the round or two or three it took me to get her off the table, but that's a pretty vicious combination- Chewie's tough to kill coupled up with an extra die most every turn from Jan? Hooo boy. It was ugly, y'all. Ugly like Nick Nolte the morning after a bender. That's some rough stuff, yo.