Monday, February 13, 2017

HWK-290s and Jan Ors: Intel Squadrons

I had said I was going to move on to Intel, and today is that day.  Having just played in the Milwaukee Regionals, my mind is still feverishly thinking Armada (I can quit ANY TIME, haha!)

So let's talk Intel and support squadrons.

Jan Ors actually has a ship, you know.  She's not just a floating person in space.  Some people even actually USE these!
Intel is without a doubt the most important squadron component added in Wave II.  Hitching up my old man pants, waaaaaaaay back in Wave I, "no one" ran squadrons (i did, not as successfully as I do now, and the Worlds winner did too) because one TIE fighter or A-wing could get in there and lock down a swarm of Y wings or X wings.  There was very little reason to invest 134 points into squadrons when 55 points of A wings (one to throw in each turn, from 2-6), thrown individually at the blob of 134 turn by turn could lock it down and prevent them from doing anything.  Yes, you probably lost all 55 points, but by preventing that 134 point squadron blob from doing anything, it was basically a win.

So when the Rogues and Villains showed up, the HWKs and Jan were the most important "Villains."  (It's a long running joke in our meta.  Because the Firesprays/Boba Fett, IG/Aggressors, and YV-666s/Bossk all got Rogue (6 total), while only Han, Dash, and the YT2400s (3) got Rogue on the Rebel side..... to quote Aaron Burr from Hamilton "Now I'm the Villain in your history....")

Shots he's not throwing away: those at enemy commander ships, or those at Major Rhymer
So Intel makes squadrons around the Intel bubble heavy.  It's a range 1 bubble, which means anything that's engaging the Intel ship is Heavy enough for the Intel ship to get away.  It ALSO means that your Bombers (those Y wings and B wings we had been talking about before!) can just speed right on their merry way towards hitting the enemy ships, and your fighters can hit their squadrons.  For the low cost of 12* points, you can ensure that ALL those points you invested into fighters and bombers can actually be spent doing the thing you paid to get them to do!

*12, if you only bring one HWK.  24 if you bring 2, 19 if you bring Jan.  I've never SEEN a HWK and Jan, but I can believe it might exist somewhere.

I will go on record right now and state that should you be bringing a heavy squadron blob of any type and if you're not bringing some type of Intel, you're doing it wrong and need to rebuild your squadron plans.  This is true for Rebels and Imperials.  Lemme say it again, in bold and in its own separate line, to emphasize its importance.

If you're bringing Bombers to hit enemy ships, you NEED at least 1 Intel ship.

You can have your Vector Gozanti with Admiral Chiraneau and Expanded Hangar Bays, and I still maintain you're doing it wrong.  Good placement on the side of your opponent can negate all of those advantages from that one ship.  You can command 3 different engaged Firesprays from the Vector, and good placement of my squadrons will keep them engaged.  Without Intel, you are entirely at the mercy of the enemy throwing squadrons at you in the arrangement they want and you being able to kill them early enough that your OTHER squadrons can then move and attack the ships you want them to.

I keep finding new ways to try to say it, but Intel lets you choose the order and path your squadrons go in the way you want.  It lets you come back to having some control in the squadrons game.  When they throw 2-3 TIEs or A wings at you and the edges of your squadron bubble, you can respond in the way you want that lets you have the upper hand next activation.  Your Intel ship moves to weigh down the enemy fighters, and then your squadrons can get free.  Your Bomber squadrons can do the job that you put them in the list to do, and that's EASILY worth 12 points.  Think of it as a 12 point investment that lets X more Black (and maybe Blue, because B wings!) dice hit your opponent's ships.  Isn't that worth it?

Changing topics a bit, the 2 blue dice against squadrons are competent (but not great), and the Counter 2 attempts to make it so there's less of a reason to attack the Intel squadron.  Having played against it, though, the minute the Intel goes down, the squadron blob hits SIGNIFICANT problems.  It's worth any amount of Counter against your squadrons if you can take out the Intel.  So how do you keep the Intel alive?  Escort squadrons.  We talk about squadron group composition in this series of posts, now that we've hit Intel.  You're really paying for the Intel ability, though, and the 2 blue dice are just icing on the Heavy cake.  Mmmm, heavy cake....

How does she cost 1 point LESS than Dengar but does so much more?
When we talk aces, Jan Ors is the one most often seen across the entire Rebel spectrum.  Sometimes she might even be the only Rebel Ace in your squadron blob, and that can be enough (to continue my Hamilton jokes....)  Her ability to let anyone within 2 of her use her Brace tokens is AMAZING.  X-wings near her live significantly longer just through her ability, especially because any Accuracy results rolled against the X-wings dont prevent her from using her ability.  Her 3 blue dice can put a good dent in enemy squadrons.  With her and Rieekan, her ability lets her stick around until the end of the turn she dies on, so she can still help for a little while longer.  If you're only bringing one Intel ship, it's worth finding the 7 points to upgrade the HWK to Jan, for all she does to aid your squadrons.

As I said at the start, Intel is the most important squadron ability from Wave II.  Using it correctly takes your squadron list from annoying to deadly.