27 October 2014

Modifications- Advanced Cloaking Device

This post regarding Modifications is part of a larger article regarding Wave 4 listbuilding- the rest of the posts in this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.




Advanced Cloaking Device (4)
Card Text: After you perform an attack, you may perform a free cloak action.

Usage in game: Changing up the order of when Cloaking usually happens.
Breakdown: So when I talked about the mysteriously named and budget-priced Stygium Particle Accelerator awhile back, I mentioned that while it's functionality is relatively dissimilar, it was kind of a poor man's Advanced Cloaking Device because it's another Phantom only Modification and because it's only 2 points. Otherwise, I couldn't really see why you'd be interested in Stygium because the free Cloak from ACD is better than a free Evade token.

Of course, I also said I'd not really messed around with Phantoms much and that I might very well have that wrong.

Judging by your comments, I pretty much did have it right- in general, the Advanced Cloaking Device is much preferred to the Stygium Particle Accelerator, Cthulhu sounding technology be damned (which, yes, is redundant), but because of the timing involved with Cloaking and Decloaking and how that interacts with PS. Not to totally sidetrack this article talking about SPA, but long story short, SPA can be made to work with lower PS ships, but ACD really shines with the two higher PS pilots included with the Phantom.

Before I get too into the verbiage of the Advanced Cloaking Device card though, we need to talk about Cloak and Decloak for just a few minutes. Lucky for me, FFG provided the Cloak and Decloak rules cards on their Phantom preview last May, so I don't have to actually bust out my stuff and transcribe them.



Ok, so let's hit the high points of Cloaking here- 
  • So long as your ship doesn't already have a Cloak Token, you can declare Cloak as your Action whenever you could normally declare an Action (as the result of a Perform Action step, somebody dishing you a Free Action, etc.). 
  • Being Cloaked increases your Agility by 2.
  • Being Cloaked does not allow you to perform Attacks.
  • Cloak Tokens are persistent and are not removed in the End Phase (so like a Target Lock, then). 

On the other side is Decloak, which is not technically an Action. 
  • Immediately before revealing your Maneuver Dial, you can spend a Cloak Token to Decloak.
  • Once you've Decloaked, you have to perform a 2 Straight, or a Barrel Roll using the 2 Straight template rather than the 1 Straight template. 
  • You can't Decloak if you'd end up overlapping another ship or an Obstacle, and in the case of an Obstacle, your template can't even overlap it. 

Ok, got it? Good. 

Now that we've covered Cloaking and Decloaking (at this point, I've typed Decloak enough times that it's starting to look like I've misspelled it, but I haven't- do you guys ever do that?), we can finally talk about Advanced Cloaking Device. 

As some of y'all pointed out in the Stygium article, the usefulness of Advanced Cloaking Device largely comes down to timing. Normally, if you want to Cloak your Phantom it happens in the Perform Action step as soon as you put the Cloak token next to your ship. Subsequently, as the rules for Cloaking forbid you from Attacking while Cloaked, the turn you drop that Cloak token, you're not going to be Attacking. Whether or not that's a big deal depends entirely on you and what kind of plans you've got in mind for your Phantom, but that's more or less the deal. 

Having that Cloak token more or less gets you two things- some slick moves when you Decloak and a +2 to your Agility, and once again, how beneficial those benefits really are largely amount to timing. 

If you follow the normal, non-Modified chain of events here (in other words, not possessing an ACD) starting with your Perform Action step, you'd declare that you're going to Cloak, put the token next to your ship, not Attack anything that Combat Phase, but be 2 green dice harder to hit for the entire time, then as the next game turn starts rolling, you pick up your Cloak token, do your 2 Straight move or Barrel Roll, and things proceed as (relatively) normal. What you're getting here is being super hard to hit through that entire Combat Phase at the price of not Attacking that turn for the cost of an Action. 

Following the ACD chain of events, you could declare an Action (but not Cloak obviously), potentially get attacked by anybody at a higher PS than you, Attack somebody yourdamnself, get your Free Action Cloak, drop the token on the table, be 2 greens harder to hit for the remainder of the Combat Phase, and so on. 

See the difference? Those four points are letting you get your shot off (with a Focus probably, no less) but still reap most of the benefit of being Cloaked. 

So who benefits from Advanced Cloaking Device the most? In keeping with the Wave 4 meta, high PS pilots, obviously. Echo and Whisper are the two high PS pilots included with the Phantom at PS 6 and 7, respectively. While that doesn't mean they'll get a chance to Attack then Cloak before really high PS guys like Wedge Antilles, Luke Skywalker, or Han Solo, they definitely will against those multiple low PS pilots that FFG seems to be really tired of Rebel players playing with- the Blue or Dagger Squadron pilots, Rookies or Reds, Gray or Golds, etc. Of course, you could always stick Veteran Instincts on Echo or Whisper if you're that worried about it as they can both rock Elite Pilot Skills. 

It's not often that I look at what cards go well with a Modification, but the time-bending nature of Advanced Cloaking Device kind of warrants it. None of the System Upgrades currently available make me overly excited, but I can see where if you just really, really, really didn't want to get shot, Sensor Jammers could work though I think it's basically overkill at that point. Assuming that you're not trying to go against the grain and stick ACD on some low PS guy, Flight Instructor isn't a terrible idea (though it doesn't come cheap), especially if you took my advice and went with Veteran Instincts. Gunner, Recon Specialist, and Rebel Captive are the pretty good ideas they pretty much always are for various reasons, but again, cost may be a factor at this point unless you're into running a two-ship list. Navigator seems tempting, but really if you're Cloaking and Decloaking a bunch, I think it's kind of unnecessary as you have three different options concerning where you set up your chosen maneuver. 

Assuming you go with a Crew Member at all, for the points, I like Tactician, Saboteur, or even good ol' Mercenary Copilot. Tactician and Mercenary Copilot I like for kind of the same reasons- with that funky Decloak move and some practice, reliably getting into Range 2 or 3 shouldn't be that big of a deal, and Saboteur is fun because it's an Action not an Attack so you can do it even when you're Cloaked. 

If you're looking for Elites besides Veteran Instincts, Decoy could work with the right setup, but I think you're kind of forcing it to make it happenSquad Leader could work here if you're getting a ton of mileage out of Cloaking after the Attack and don't really need your own Action. Another old standby that gets a mention here is Marksmanship because of that ridiculous Attack value the Phantom possesses, especially if you're trying to really make your shots count in a two or three ship list. The much maligned Expose I think ought to at least get a mention here as well as ACD works with it, though less effectively, but better than usual.