Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Imperial squadron review: YV-666, or "garbage trucks from outer space"

Time for a shorter review of another Imperial wave 2 Rogue squadron: the YV-666, or as it's known around these parts: "the garbage truck."


It'll take out the trash! When it gets there... some day. Maybe.


Some genius thought "why not make a ship that looks like a boomerang glued to the underside of a cargo barge?"
The YV-666 is a confounding squadron. It has some astoundingly good upsides and some frustratingly bad downsides. Let's cover those separately:

Pros:
  • 7 hull for 15 points is pretty astounding, especially for the Empire. This is not a squadron that can be casually swatted down.
  • 2 blue and 2 black anti-squadron is pretty potent - as good as a TIE Defender on a 1 point cheaper Rogue chassis. You'll do on average 2.5 damage to enemy squadrons, which is pretty good when you're sticking around a while due to 7 hull.
  • Grit allows you to not get tied down messing with full-health sacrificial mooks and you can even do the occasional trick of moving away from a single Escort to attack squadrons your opponent would rather you didn't.
  • Rogue is always helpful for keeping your need to command squadrons down.
Cons:
  • Speed 2 is extraordinarily slow, especially for a squadron that wants to be acting as a fighter. Speed 3+ bombers with the inevitable Intel assistance are going to be able to book it away from you pretty consistently and you just can't keep up. The Empire doesn't yet have a great ship for Fighter Coordination Teams to be equipped to that could help with this (and even if it did, then you get into the question of "would this be best used to bring a slow squadron up to mediocre or a faster squadron up to "they've gone to plaid"?)
  •  One blue dice anti-ship is very bad on an expensive 15-point squadron. You're just as bad against ships as an 8-point TIE Fighter, although more durable at least. Still, a 50% chance of 1 damage is not great odds.
  • Heavy is also a tough trait for a fighter to have, given one of a fighter squadron's two primary duties is to engage bombers to stop them from bombing your ships (the other being to destroy those enemy squadrons). You can't really overtax an Intel squadron's coverage, forcing it to leave behind one or two squadrons, when your fighters are already Heavy. Of course there's a somewhat fatalistic argument to be made here that if your fighters are going to be turned Heavy anyways, you may as well just get the points discount on the squadron for it being Heavy and reduce the cost-effectiveness of enemy Intel squadrons. Were YV-666s not speed 2, I would find that argument more convincing, but the combination of Heavy and speed 2 can lead to some big trouble as you're ignored or simply run away from and don't have much you can do to prevent either.
In short, I can't really recommend YV-666s (that's two of the Imperial generic Rogue squadrons so far, so the Aggressor now has company). Were you to run them anyways, I'd recommend using them as part of your fighter coverage in a slower fleet (say with VSDs and Interdictors) where the goal is to keep flying CAP on your slower beefier ships with some assistance from non-Heavy fighters like TIE Fighters to keep enemies pinned in place for them. Ruthless Strategists would be ideal for assisting with flak as the YVs have plenty of hull to spare and anything that can bring down enemy squadrons faster makes the YVs less likely to get stranded chasing after low-HP squadrons that they'll never catch.

HOW DARE YOU CUT ME OFF IN TRAFFIC, I'LL FEAST ON YOUR EYES!
Bossk is a substantial upgrade on the YV-666 for +8 points, a 53% increase, making him one of the most expensive squadrons in the game. For those points, Bossk gains:
  • 2 anti-squadron blue dice converted to black dice (for 4 black dice total), which improves his average damage from 2.5 to 3.
  • +1 black dice against ships (but no bomber keyword), bringing his average damage against ships up from 0.5 to 1.25.
  • +1 speed, going from 2 to 3. This is a pretty substantial speed upgrade given how short the distance 2 segment is on the range ruler.
  • Gains one brace defense token. With only one defense token it should be noted that against squadrons with numerous blue dice, Bossk won't often get much use from his brace. When you can leverage it against other squadrons, though, it can extend his 7-hull lifespan pretty considerably.
  • Loses Heavy, allowing him to be good at tying down bombers and the like, which generic YV-666s cannot do.
  • Bossk's unique ability. It should be noted that Bossk can set the blue dice to an accuracy when attacking either ships or squadrons, although it's generally most useful at augmenting Bossk's potent anti-squadron attacks used against ace squadrons, particularly scatter aces, who will be left only able to brace Bossk's 3 average damage down to 2 when their scatter is locked down. Bossk also loves picking on the rare one-defense-token ace (such as himself, IG-88, or Hera) or those who have spent down to only one remaining token, as he can guarantee the lock-down, trashing them just like a generic squadron.
As I noted in the TIE Advanced article, Bossk has a lot of synergy with Zertik Strom. Zertik can run interference for Bossk early on when there are likely to be more robust threats to his life, but he can also ping Bossk just once with his ability to turn on Bossk's "pleasure from pain" guaranteed accuracy. Once Bossk gets his guaranteed accuracy, he's an absolute wrecking ball to other aces and at minimum does a great job of trashing generic squadrons if he can't get his claws on any aces. Once Zertik is disposed of by that point Bossk is often still sitting pretty healthy and the ability for surviving enemy fighters to chisel through his 6 hull and one brace token is suspect, which leaves opponents in an unpleasant position of needing to choose between "ignore Bossk and watch him keep trashing my squadrons" or "devote far too much effort putting down an angry guy in a rubber lizard costume."

You can also trigger Bossk's ability through Ruthless Strategists should you have them in your fleet, but I find the Zertik combination is much easier and has more synergy.

Like a Bossk!
Don't forget to take advantage of Bossk's Grit to jump away from engagement with only a single squadron (either before or after attacking - it's fun to destroy one squadron so there's only one left engaging you and then use Grit to move away) to go after more choice targets and/or heal on the space station if it's nearby (just don't go back up to 7 unless there's a good reason).

In short, I recommend Bossk. He hits like a ton of bricks and he's very low-maintenance. His main impediment is his substantial points cost. I'd recommend starting with Bossk and Zertik (a 38 point investment) and adding additional generic fighters past there, preferably something cheap like TIE Fighters or something multi-role like TIE Defenders. If you're able to afford additional luxuries, Colonel Jendon can give Bossk an additional attack every turn (which just shreds squadrons to bits) and/or an Intel squadron can free Bossk up to consistently get a move and attack each turn (whichever order you like) regardless of Grit.

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