20 January 2015

Named Pilots- Lieutenant Blount

This post regarding Named Pilots 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. For more info, click the "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Lieutenant Blount (17)
Card Text: When Attacking, the Defender is hit by your Attack, even if he does not suffer any damage.

Usage in game: Hitting even that which cannot be hit.
Breakdown: All right, let's get this out of the way.

Longtime readers of the Bikini will know that I've made this point multiple times in the past, but it bears repeating every time it comes up, because who knows what entry point y'all use to read the site.

So Blount's card text can be a little confusing because of the usage of the term "hit." Hit in X-Wing means one very specific thing, but many folks (me included) throw the word "hit" around during a game when we don't actually mean "hit" in the rulebook sense of things.

When FFG talks about a "hit" in X-Wing, what they're talking about the result of Step 6 of the Combat Phase. That's when the Attacker and Defender compare all their die results, after they've had the chance to modify them with stuff like Focuses and Evades and all that business. If the Attacker ended up with more <filled explosion symbol> results or <unfilled explosion symbol> results than the Defender ended up with <wavy arrow symbol> results, then the Defender got hit.

Not to belabor the point, but a hit in these terms is not a die result- which many times is what we say when we roll the red dice and get some explosions. At least, not necessarily. Those results are just results, even if we usually call them hits and/ or crits.

Right on, so that business clarified, let's look again at Blount's card text- normally, the Attacker has to do at least one more <explosion symbol, filled or unfilled> result than the Defender can handle with <wavy arrow> results. If that happens, as y'all know, the Defender takes damage in the amount of whatever the difference between the red results and the green results. If there are more green results than reds, then the Defender avoids being damaged in that encounter. With Lieutenant Blount though, even if he doesn't get more red results than his defender gets greens, he still is considered to have hit his target.

Ok, now that we understand that, what does that even mean?

By itself, that's kind of not really that big of a deal. It doesn't mean Blount automatically does damage, it just means he automatically hits. Ok, maybe I shouldn't say automatically because you do have to legitimately be able to Attack the target- so he has to be in arc, at least within Range 3, etc., but assuming Blount has a valid target, then regardless of how badly you roll or how well your buddy rolls to defend, you are considered to have hit your target.

So if it doesn't do much by itself, what does it mate up with? Anything that has a "if hit" type criteria. There's not a ton of stuff, but there are a few things this shows up with- namely Assault Missiles and Ion Pulse Missiles. Assaults, again assuming you've got a valid target, will always splash the ships within Range 1 of the target, Ion Pulse Missiles will always ding their target for a point of damage and 2 Ion Tokens. Additionally, even if you're not sporting ordnance on Blount, he's going to peel off any enemy Stealth Devices assuming he can draw a bead on them.

The only real downside to any of this is his ability makes Munitions Failsafe pointless, at least the way I read things.

Now that I've spent 9 paragraphs (ok, I use the term paragraph liberally as my fondness of one sentence paragraphs could be seen as biased towards high paragraph counts) explaining all that business, what's Blount good for?

He's great for getting rid of Stealth Devices. Now, much like his pal Airen, Blount has the potential to be a real day ruiner for your opponent depending on how much he relies on Stealth Devices or how susceptible he is to Assault Missiles or Ion Pulse Missiles. That is to say, against some folks he'll be a target of the highest priority, other opponents will virtually ignore him. That said, I think if you play people who are fond of tournament type meta, that is TIE Swarms and Phantom lists, depending on how you have him kitted out, Blount is probably going to be a fairly high priority target. 

Like I've said on here in the past, the formation is what makes a TIE Swarm more dangerous than the sum of it's parts and Blount can exploit that pretty readily for only 22 points. Sure, the Swarm can simply break formation, but you'll at least knock your opponent out of his comfort zone and keep him a little more honest than he might normally be.

As for the Ions, it may not be the easiest thing to pull off, but being able to auto-hit a big ship that happens to be facing a board edge after a collision or something makes him end up in a spot he wouldn't normally wind up in, forcing him to do a straight 1 could be absolutely priceless. Probably not real likely to happen, but being able to 100% ionize a big ship with a 22 point starfighter has a certain je ne sais quoi, right?

All that said, is Blount worth taking?

Well, he is flying a Z-95, so at the end of the day, if your opponent wants him dead bad enough, it's going to happen. Like I talked about in the Wave 4 preview 10 months ago, a Z-95 doesn't have that bad of a dial, but only having four HP (2 Shield and 2 Hull) ain't exactly a Brinks truck in space.

Also, much like his buddy Airen, I kinda flinch at the idea of tacking a bunch of points on this guy. Ultimately, he's kind of a support ship, though not as obviously as his buddy. Blount can take Elite Pilot Talents, which is kinda surprising to be honest being as how he's only a PS 6. Again, I'm not totally nuts about taking a bunch of upgrades and stuff, but Deadeye could be a good one if you've gone missile-centric with him and you're trying for one of those 1st or 2nd turn alpha strikes with a tube full of Assault Missiles.