Choosing the RIGHT Admiral for your fleet can make or break it. If you try to run squadrons with Ackbar in a sufficient number, you're going to have a bad time. Similarly, if you put Mon Mothma in with your Defiance list, you're not going to get the most benefit out of your list. I'm not saying you CAN'T win with your list (I've run Madine with an Assault MC80 and done OK with it! I've tried that Ackbar squadrons list!), but I'd rather save you some time in figuring out what works with your guy, what doesn't work with your guy, and how to fight the Commander when all of your friends start choosing him. I'll start this off with one of my favorite Rebel leaders.
|So if I ram his ships, they take even MORE damage when they ram me back?|
|Fancy updated FAQ card action!|
The benefit of Rieekan is there in the ability. One of your unique squadrons or ships doesn't die until the end of the turn (but BEFORE any Objectives, such as Fire Lanes, would trigger). So even if you have second player, and Demolisher jumps your ship, you still get to go, no matter how much damage your ship takes. If you survive with one HP, you get an ENTIRE full turn. You could have an LMC80 going speed 3, have no defense tokens, and have Power Failure, Ruptured Engine, Damaged Controls, Crew Panic, Compartment Fire, and just had the Structural Damage Crit triggered last turn. But you know what? It's got 1 health left, which means it gets one full turn before it insanely explodes. Fire out of that front arc! Ram something else! Laugh as they ram you and take ANOTHER damage! He's also very new player friendly, in that you still get to have a turn with your ship, even after it's been blown up. If you're going to lose a ship this turn, you might be able to take a few of them with you.
Keep in mind, however, that thanks to the latest FAQ, you only get to keep ONE ship or squadron alive a turn. Because all upgrades (except Jamming Field) are "can" effects, you get to choose what ship/squadron lives. But you have to choose when it dies, no take-backsies later.
However, he's not just New Player Insurance. I've heard people say "Oh, he's only good if you lose a ship, so he's bad." First, no., the last two Worlds winners would disagree with you. He forces your opponent to consider things a LOT differently. If you don't DIE until the end of the turn, I can't maneuver myself to be where you were. I might be forced to keep my ship in the side arc of that HMC80. Rieekan doesn't care if it's dead, it's taking something with it. I have to plan movement so I either end up out of the way, or I have to deal with taking fire no matter what I do. Second, he can keep your Unique squadrons alive. When you need Wedge to put that last damage into Rhymer, when you need Keyan Farlander to roll one more time into that ISD, when you need Nym to try to roll a Blue Crit onto that ship one more time.... Rieekan lets you do that. Lastly, because of his ability, he's one of the few good easy Rebel counters to Demolisher. The Imperial player could have a 30 point bid, Demolisher loaded to the gills with upgrades (there's another way to play it?), and be attacking that 7 HP shot LMC80. But! I still get a turn. Rieekan honestly does OK with either first or second player, so 0-bid lists are frequently seen with him.
One common tactic seen with Rieekan is a double/triple ram. In the best example of it, I fire my CR90B's 2 side arcs into the front of your ISD, giving me 3 and (concentrating fire) 3 damage each attack. I then ram you, trigger Engine Techs with a maneuver token, and then ram you again. You go, obliterate my CR90 with your ISD front arc, and.... stay in place, because you ram me. So you've taken 6 damage from my actual shots, and 3 facedown from ramming. All for the cost of 44 points. And you're stuck in place. I can do this again next turn, for potentially another 9 damage, 3 of it again, straight to the hull. Your ISD is half dead and hasn't moved forward in 2 turns. And that's if I only attack you with those 2 CR90s!
Common Ships/Squadrons Seen With Him
Rieekan, because his ability is so universal, can be fielded with almost anyone. There are 3 common builds in our meta, and I'm sure there's many others, but these are the basic 3.
|Scooty Puff Sr: The Doombringer|
CR90Bs and CR90As (Rieekan loves CR90B's with SW7 Ion Cannons! Guaranteed damage every turn, no matter what you roll!), Salvation, Entrapment Formation! Pelta, MC30s. This build usually goes less heavy on named squadrons and focuses more on overwhelming you and your defense tokens with repeated small attacks trying to kill you incrementally.
GR75s, Yavaris, named squadrons (heck, even some not named! But so many bombers...), Pelta with All Fighters Follow Me!, potentially Independence MC80. Rebel squadrons have been one of the best ways to kill capital ships since Wave I. And now that Norra Wexley exists, those shields are going to evaporate quickly. This plan is a little more cagey, but this is my usual go-to when using Rieekan. There's very few things more satisfying than watching Adar Tallon on a GR75 send Nym forwards to hit an ISD and get the crit, then have him untap so Yavaris can do it 2 more times. Who cares if Nym is dead next turn anyways? He still gets to roll into that ship 2-3 more times!
This build usually involves Rieekan piloting a Defiance MC80 loaded for bear. It's a dangerous pickle that's always going to be able to attack you with all those extra dice from Defiance. Usually the rest of the list is filled with smaller ships (CR90s, Nebulon-Bs, GR75s, etc) to pad activations, heal Defiance, and/or push squadrons. This is somewhat of an offshoot of the 2 other types, but Defiance takes on a more active role than just a carrier in this build.
Anything he doesn't like?
I havent seen him used significantly with LMC80s, but that may be more of a style choice than anything. Keep it cheap, run it with some Nebulons and you've got a good jousting list that doesn't care about being dead, as it'll keep jousting you. The issue with THAT plan is that Madine kinda does that better. Rieekan's not BAD with LMC80s, I just don't often see them paired together based on what Rieekan wants to be doing. All other ships that I don't see him paired with are usually not seen with most Rebel commanders for cost or usage reasons (I don't see him with Assault Frigates often, but I don't often see a LOT of Assault Frigates in Rebel lists, recent Worlds winners excepted. Similarly with MC30 Scouts or Combat GR75s. Most people prefer the cheaper basic GR75 and the more accurate/deadlier/easier to roll an accuracy Torpedo Frigate) But the LMC80 (either version) is one I don't often see with Rieekan. If you have a list that uses it, I'd love to hear about it!
How do I fight this guy?
First, you have to think of the game entirely differently. Any other commander, if you can put SOME damage into 2 ships, and you go first, that's potentially 2 dead ships next turn if you double arc. That doesn't matter when you're pinned in place and getting shot back. If you have the choice between 2 hurt ships and one healthy/one dead, choose the second. That's one less ship attack you're taking next turn. The smarter plan that i can see is waiting on them to activate and go and move in close, and then hit the ships that have already activated. They've done all they can, now you're just trying to make sure they don't do anything further to you. When you attack them, they arent doing you more damage that turn, so you can plan for them and risk more (TRC activation, Dual Turbolaser Turret Rerolls, for example) to get that ship DEAD.
Second, keep Rieekan's ability in mind constantly. I can't tell you the number of games Eric or I have played against Rieekan that we forgot about his ability for one second and bam, you're stuck and in trouble.
The other thing that i'll say helps A LOT fighting Rieekan is knowing and seeing arcs and threat ranges. H1MC80s and Nebulon B's have one AMAZING arc and other arcs that arent so good (and MC80s don't like it when you park in their front arc!). MC30s have great firepower... if they can get into black dice range. CR90s are great, IF they can double arc you. Navigating to get where you need to in order to stay out of his way may be one of the best ways to save your life. That nav dial just saved you 2-3 damage from the CR90 side. Hitting medium range and short range CR90s at Long Range with Red dice helps a lot. I love LMC80s and ISDs for firing on those little ships that don't have significant HP and can't absorb the damage that a Large Base like that puts out. As for ensuring that you stay out of those arcs, well that's knowing distance and threat range on your range rulers.
As for not getting engaged all at once? Good terrain placement, good movement, prayer? Rieekan swarms (and swarms in general) win when you can't deal with everything all at once. Moving yourself in such a way that the swarm cant hit you all at once is how you stop yourself from getting killed by the swarm. Use the full deployment zone, change speeds, and concentrate your fire on what you can to kill it dead. If you see your ship being targeted, engineering for several turns in a row until you get out of the swarm might be the best way to live. XI7s help a lot against ships that want to redirect (those same MC30s, CR90s, and H1MC80s), but they help against a lot of ships to begin with. XI7s help significantly against most swarm ships, so that's a good start for most lists (and especially as swarms remain popular. Only ships that dont care about XI7s are Raiders, Neb B's, and Flotillas. Which, one accuracy to the brace, roll into the side, and one accuracy for the scatter mean broke, broke, and dead, if you're rolling right with an LMC80.) So if you're concerned with swarms, XI7s HURT swarms. If you've got squadrons coming at you, realize that you most likely won't win the squadrons game (his aces will be hitting you after they're dead. Zombie Wedge is filled with MURDER) but if you can delay him for long enough, that's a win. Remember, the winner of the match isn't the guy dealing the most squadron damage; it's the most damage against the other guy, be it in ship or squadron form. Rush his carriers and blow them out of the sky, if you can. Just try to get shot as little as possible going in. Use terrain to hide/be obstructed.
As for other general Rieekan fighting? Objectives that hurt him (anything that causes damage when the ship stays alive for longer, like superior positions), hitting him and running (hop his MC30 with your MC30!) and trying not to get hemmed in all help. The best thing, I think, with the new FAQ out, is to make sure that you kill multiple ships/named squadrons in one turn, so Rieekan can't use his ability to its full extent. If you kill a named squadron first, does he save that one, or does he save the Yavaris that's about to get shot twice in its side? THAT'S how you hurt Rieekan, hitting several ships/unique squadrons at the same time and killing several of them in the same turn. Not an easy task, but teaming up is the way to do it. Don't let him throw one ship at a time at you, keeping it alive; find a way to threaten and kill several of his ships and squadrons in one turn, that'll force him to choose what stays alive to threaten you later and what doesn't.
I once heard someone say that Rieekan can be either a Beginner's Guide to a Video Game, or he can be your Master's Thesis, if you know what you're doing with him. Through careful practice and repeated playing, may he be the latter for you. Good luck with your experiments!