17 January 2014

Named Pilots: Captain Kagi

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.

Captain Kagi (27)
Card Text: When an enemy ship acquires a target lock, it must lock onto your ship if able.

Usage in game: Thwarting (when the hell's the last time I got to use the word "thwarting" in context anyway?) ordnance meta.
Breakdown: When Wave 3 stuff started leaking out, I made kind of a big deal about not digging the idea of support ships like the Shuttle and the HWK-290 because I felt like they were too expensive points-wise to justify in the 100 point standard tournament dogfight list.

I was kinda off-base about that. I'll admit it. I've flown against both the Shuttle and HWK-290 and both have been justifiably supportive to their buddies.

So as I'm wont to do, I did a lot of navel gazing to figure out where I lost the plot. I came to the conclusion that I think it boils down my usual rap when it comes to X-Wing- how well you move and maneuver your list.

"No kidding, Captain Obvious?" You're probably thinking. Let me elaborate and hopefully get a little face back, but also eventually tie all this into our good pal Captain Kagi.

See, here's the thing- as I've mentioned before, I'm not a great X-Wing player. Hell, to be honest, I'd say I'm maybe, maybe a step above average. For those of y'all who attended public school in the States (or are at least cursorily aware of how most U.S. public schools grade the students), I'm like a C+ X-Wing player who at times can rustle up a B- or B performance on a good day when I've actually gotten some sleep the night before. Thing is, I'm fairly good at explaining stuff and doing it in a relatively entertaining way, which is why the site functions the way it does. In other words, it's more about the message than the method. Or, I don't know, it's more about the frosting than the cupcake. More the bling than the thing? Whatever. I think you know what I'm saying.

Long story long- I'm usually not good enough to justify spending 20-30 points of my list on support ships because I won't fly them well enough to justify the points outlay. I'm much more likely to get my points out of less subtle, more direct applications.

Of course, that doesn't mean you can't make them work for you, which is where I was off-base badmouthing the support ships. If you're good at moving and maneuvering and aren't a beginner and/ or poor to average player, you most likely can in fact, make them work for you. Luckily for the rest of us, the stuff in X-Wing is still fairly well balanced for the points, so it's not like if you can't make the Shuttle or the HWK work you're destined to auto-lose.

Right on. Anyway, so Captain Kagi.

The special rule has some interesting wording if you pick it apart. Basically, if your opponent wants to pick Target Lock as his Action, he has to Target Lock Kagi if possible. And let's be honest- it's usually possible. I'll get into that in a second.  

Right off the bat, you're placing some limits on where your opponent can utilize the benefits of a Target Lock Action- namely to fire his ordnance and/ or re-roll his attack dice, which if your meta is trending towards everybody taking some warheads to down or disable big ships, is a Martha Stewart-style Good Thing. As we've discussed on here before, anything you can do to disrupt your opponent's usual plans is good for you because it puts him a little bit on his back foot and makes him consider options he usually doesn't, which hopefully leads him to make some mistakes because he's having to go outside of his normal game plan, and blah, blah, blah.

Now, against lists that don't feature warheads, Kagi can still be useful too. After all, he's still flying a 10 hp (hull + shields), Attack 3 boat that runs at Pilot Skill 8 for only 27 points. While it has the handling of a masonry brick with a flat tire and no power steering, it's got a big base and for the above average player, is simple enough to maneuver so that it acts as a Target Lock screen for ships in their list.

The downside here is that lots of folks aren't using Target Locks for the most part- if you've read TheMetalBikini.com for any length of time, you've seen a lot of comments from the Aficionados stating that Focus is the Action of choice in nearly any situation short of something contextual (like firing warheads). This is where I think a meta caveat is important for Captain Kagi- if folks in your area don't roll warheads and rarely if ever Target Lock, Kagi isn't likely to be your lovah, regardless of whether or not you get with his friends.

Maybe the most interesting possibility with Kagi in my mind is the notion of using him against his own kind- Imperials in a tournament setting. With the popularity of Han Shoots First for the Rebs, I gotta think a lot of folks are running a couple of TIE Bombers sporting warheads in their Imperial lists these days. These guys are going to be frustrated if you can fly Kagi at all. I guess if it were me, I'd just go ahead and nuke him off the board and get it over with, but if I do, I'm either wasting those expensive, one-shot weapons on a ship that retails stock for less than 33 points or I'm taking for-friggin'-ever downing a big ship with only primaries- not exactly my idea of a good time. Of course, if I don't, I'm spending my Activation Phase trying to fly around Kagi's area of effect to TL the stuff I actually want to shoot with my ordnance. 

And bonus tip- don't forget that TLing is a 360 degree acquisition- they can't just fly past you and TL stuff in their arc of fire. No, no, no. His rule isn't when your opponent spends the TL, it's when they acquire it. Remember that pic I ran in the Han Shoots First article? You probably do since I just linked to it a couple paragraphs back, but if not, dig this-

Those range sticks and the big base more or less show the field of effect Kagi has- ships within Range 3 gotta TL you if they're gonna TL as their Action. 

So using this guy and knowing that your opponent is probably just going to spit in the face of his special rule and kill him with fire, I think you have basically two options- run him cheap so when he does get removed from the table you still have most of your points in the stars or run him expensive or disrupt your opponent's plans as long as possible by making him difficult to kill. 

The cheap option is easier to figure out- I think using a Rebel Captive here is a good idea. I could see a Saboteur working sometimes as your opponent may get close with the ships not carrying warheads to get the extra attack die. The main thing is you keep your Kagi total value below 33 points so your opponent still has to kill one more ship to actually get the win against you. If you're not nuts about either of those ideas, a Sensor Jammer could be fun. 

If you're going to go expensive with the idea of keeping him alive, Shield Upgrade is kind of a no-brainer, and once Imperial Aces drops, Hull Upgrade would be compelling too. I'd go ahead and take Rebel Captive or possibly Saboteur for the reasons mentioned above, and if I'm trying to keep him alive with that poxy 1 Defense die, I'd look hard at stuff like Navigator or Intelligence Agent too with the idea of not giving them a shot to start with. Also, using a Flight Instructor won't likely be the silliest idea you've had all day either, being as how you're definitely going to get shot at one way or another. 

While I probably wouldn't bother with Elite Pilot Skills if I'm going cheap, I could see Adrenaline Rush not being a complete waste of time since Shuttles have so many red maneuvers and Kagi's card text doesn't require an Action, and just for the LOL-tastic potential, I'd have to try Expert Handling at least once. Lols, my bad. As has been pointed out in the comments, Kagi does not have access to Elite Pilot Skills. Also, there's no basement in the Alamo. 

I'd stay away from stuff that makes you overly offensive like Vader, Crew Member as Kagi is going to be a big enough target already and the points would probably be better spent beefing up the rest of your list to hit as hard as it possibly can while he's still on the table. 

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