Monday, February 6, 2017

Imperial commander review: Admiral Motti

Welcome to the first of many Imperial commander reviews! Similar to how John is doing his Rebel commander reviews, I'd mostly like to cover how a commander works, what kind of archetypes he or she prefers, and then finally a little something for those facing off against that commander. These overall should be shorter than the lengthy squadron articles I've been producing (I hope, haha). Given that a commander is the first thing you should be deciding on for your fleet, this feels like the kind of subject that's best tackled sooner rather than later.

Let's begin with Admiral Motti.
You may remember him sass-mouthing Vader before force choked in A New Hope.

Admiral Motti has a very direct benefit that many would describe as "boring, but good." As usual, a few things of note, in bullet point form:
  • Your ships only gain the bonus hull points while Motti is on the table. Once your flagship is destroyed, Motti takes the secret of his magic duct tape to the grave, which can cause fleets to exist in a perilous circumstance where destroying Motti's ship can cause some (or all!) of your remaining ships to be destroyed as their inflated hull values revert to normal.
  • Flotillas are ships of the same size class as their base so Motti will give them bonus hull depending on their base size (as of the writing of this article, only small flotillas exist). I've come across some players who erroneously believe flotillas are their own size class but that is incorrect.
Motti is one of the rare Imperial commanders that can be added to any fleet and he works just fine, as every ship enjoys having more hull. He's also a very reasonable cost of only 24 points, which is quite good given that its benefit in most 400 point games would be around 6 hull points for your fleet and often more. The main response to the question of "why not just run him in every fleet?" is "opportunity cost." There are many fleets that do better with different commanders, but I'm covering Motti first because I encourage you to think of him as the default Imperial commander. If, upon reviewing your fleet, your chosen commander isn't doing as much for your whole fleet as Motti who just blundered into the commander chair of a fleet he's never seen before, then chances are pretty good you should look into redesigning your fleet 😉.

Motti's benefit is more efficient the cheaper your ship is for its size class. A 23-point no upgrades ("naked") Gozanti gets the same +1 hull point as a super-upgraded 90+ point Gladiator-class Star Destroyer, so there's a bit of an incentive to go lighter on upgrades and cheaper on ships to further milk Motti's buff by just putting more ships on the table. That's not to say there's no place for expensive ships with Motti, just... be careful with that.

Motti is happy when his ships can use defensive retrofits to double-down on their survivability for this reason I'd strongly recommend getting Minister Tua into a fleet led by Motti to provide some extra durability to a ship that otherwise lacks the generally-rare defensive retrofit option.

The following archetypes/fleet builds come to mind for Motti:

Big heavy: 
Larger ships get a larger benefit from Mottti, but generally only efficiently so long as they're kept cheap. Victory-class Star Destroyers come to mind immediately, but Imperial-class Star Destroyers that aren't prohibitively expensive can really enjoy some Motti hull points as well. 14 hull point ISDs and 10 hull point VSDs are not trivially destroyed. The main issues you'll run into with Motti commanding a heavy triangles sort of fleet is your overall maneuverability is poor and so you'll find Nav commands on those ships to be absolutely essential for getting your heavy hitters to stay on their targets. A few small support ships like Raiders or Arquitens are recommended just to keep more maneuverable opponents honest. This kind of build can be a good counter to a stronger bomber presence in your meta, as bombers frequently are able to overheat the defense tokens of larger ships due to launching numerous smaller attacks, but raw hull is always a workable way to put additional buffers between your ships and destruction.

Carrier fleets: 
The primary weakness of carrier fleets is that they're susceptible to getting all their ships destroyed by very aggressive enemy fleets before their bombers can grind the enemy into submission. Motti patches over this Achilles' heel by providing more ablative armor for your ships without taking too much of a chunk out of your remaining points for ships and squadrons. Simple as that, really. These types of fleets are often using VSDs, ISDs, and Gozantis, all of whom Motti is happy to provide cost-effective extra hull to (just be careful of not going too crazy on your ISD upgrades!).

A bit of everything:
Many Imperial commanders have a relatively short list of ships they'd like to include in their fleets. Motti definitely has some he prefers a bit over others, but he's quite content to run a slapdash collection of misfits that no other commander would dare to put together because at least one of them would go against the grain of that commander's ability. Motti is far less choosy in this regard.

How do I beat Motti?
Ah, time for the sneaky counter-tech end to the article. If you're on the opposite side of the table from Motti, what are some good tips for beating him?
  • Factor the extra hull points into your estimation of how much work you need to do to destroy ships. It's a potentially game-losing mistake to spend a turn or two's worth of effort from some of your fleet trying to destroy a tougher ship (VSD, ISD, Interdictor) only to discover that you didn't bring enough firepower and that ship is going to limp away undestroyed. If you can't realistically bring a ship down, do your best to avoid it altogether and focus your effort elsewhere.
  • Gun for the flagship. This is a fairly "no duh" suggestion to shut down any commander's effect, but it can have catastrophic effects with Motti. If Motti puts himself out there, destroying his flagship first effectively limits his benefit to only his ship and then *pop*, the rest of the fleet returns to normal. If you're in a situation where you have a limping-away ship held together by only the Motti magic duct tape, focusing your forces that just shot past the would-be-dead-except-for-Motti Imperial ship on removing the flagship can cause a chain reaction explosion.
  • Milk the extra objective points if possible. Normally living longer is great, but in circumstances where making attacks under certain circumstances can provide you with bonus points, you can turn Motti's benefit into a hindrance. I'm talking about objectives like Superior Positions (attack the ships in the rear), Precision Strike (turn those shield-stripped but hull-intact ships into points piñatas by flipping damage cards and inflicting crits!), and Fighter Ambush (hit those ships with squadrons!). You can also get some mileage from Opening Salvo if you intend to only inflict a bit of damage on a Motti ship and then jet away, which will still grant you half points for much less than half the work required to destroy the ship!
That concludes the article on Motti. Next up: Admiral Screed!


  1. I would rank the ships that gain the most synergy from Motti differently:
    1. ISD. Usually with ISD in your fleet your whole strategy depends on its survival, so +3 HP is a strategic benefit here and can differentiate between winning or losing a game.
    2. Raider(!) Pepole may be surprised here, but that extra one hull on a raider is a big deal, as now its much less likely to be one shot and can be flown more agressively.
    3. VSD. 10 hull, a lot of damage output and expendable.
    4. Interdictor. Becomes a headache to kill.
    5. Gladiator. For the same reason Raider is #2.
    6. Flotillas. Nice to have that extra hull, but if someone hunts it it'll be dead anyway, and if noone does - its death has only a tactical disadvantage.
    7. Arquittens. As in - everyone else ;)

    1. I'm also a fan of the Raider with Motti even though I was skeptical at first, but I don't feel it has particularly strong synergy, just decent synergy. It's a great inclusion with slower fleets as it can guard flanks very well. I feel similarly about the Gladiator - sure, +1 HP is useful and can sometimes keep your Demolisher ticking when it would have otherwise died, but Gladiators are best used with some decent investment in upgrades, which waters down Motti's benefit.

      I'd also like to add that there's not really a ranking system amongst the categories. Something that's listed first under "strong synergy" isn't necessarily stronger than something listed third, for example. It's very context-dependent and subjective and I'd prefer to avoid a ranking list for that reason.

    2. I updated the article to remove the ships section. I think I'd rather talk more about that when I get to the individual ship reviews where it can be done in a more nuanced fashion. I'm not a big fan of ranking things as it tends to produce argument for no real benefit and even if it is a 3-tier system, it's still a ranking system. Thanks for your comments, though.