Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Nebulon Bs! Jousting for Fun and Profit

So Eric's encouraged me to start doing ship reviews.  This, combined with the fact that I've exhausted the Wave 2 squadrons and am in the middle of playtesting several Wave 5 ones, along with the fact that the Squadrons Post is going to take some doing (it's coming along, I swear! I have Vassal and everything for fancy-pants pictures!) means I'm going to take both a slow-down (I'm not able to do 4-5 articles a week this way, or else I'll burn out) and a refocus (again, i haven't forgotten the Squadrons Article.  It's just going to involve both several parts and a decent time to get everything through.  Expect the first one when the bell tolls one by Friday, hopefully).

So on that note: let's do a ship review of the Nebulon B.

Fun fact: when Eric and I got into this game, we referred to the Support Refit as the "Garbage Truck" variant.  Why would you cheap out on points when you can command more squadrons and have better AA? Ah, youth!
So the two Nebulon B's (Neb B's, or Nebs for ease of my typing, haha) have an incredibly strong front arc.  3 Shields, 3 red dice, this was basically (at the time of release) a stripped down Victory Star Destroyer.  The Assault Frigate had 4 shields, but that was an entirely different ship, with a different role and all. Look at how fast the Neb can move, it can beat VSDs in a speed match, this ship was amazing!

Then you look at the side arc.  One shield is a gateway to Sadness Town by way of the Damage Cards on Your Ship Train.  We all hate that train.  The 1 shield on the sides is certainly.... existent.  But it does not protect you from a significant amount of damage.  The 2 brace tokens help that a lot, but if an enemy ever rolls 2 accuracies on you, that could be trouble.  It comes with Enhanced Armaments, but I wouldn't use them together. The smartest way to use a ship is not to necessarily improve a bad/mediocre part of it and instead maximize what it IS good at.  You CAN make the Support Refit a Carrier, but why wouldn't you just use the Escort Frigate? You can fire some OK dice out the side, but wouldn't you rather improve the front arc?  (We'll get to HOW in a bit....)

So how do you generally use them?

Follow Instructions
Point them towards the enemy and let them survive through strong shields and good commands and smart piloting (I will FULLY admit i do not always have this!).  With 3 shields and 2 brace tokens, you can take a lot of punishment on your front shields.  And with 5 health, an enemy would need to roll (somehow) 13 damage or 8 damage and 2 accuracies to take out your Neb B in one shot.  I'm sure it's not impossible (looking at you, ISD) but it's not easy at ALL.  Keeping things in your front arc (and only your front!) is not easy.  But with your RED dice battery, you don't want to be any closer than you need to anyways!  And if you can stay in Red range (somehow), your Evade defense token lets you cancel one die coming at you! Or even reroll it at Medium range!

I see (and have done this myself, so you're in good company!) people start their Nebs waaaay too fast and then when they get shot early turn 3 and killed, they get sad.  Sadder if they moved from Out of Red Range Turn 2 into Black Dice Range Turn 3, and the saddest if they never got a shot off.  If you're bringing the Salvation, I cannot agree harder with Shmitty and using it as a flanker/finisher.  Start it at speed 1, potentially even near the back of your deployment zone.  You're using it to finish off whatever is left of a ship after your others have evaporate the shields of it: you don't want to bring it in to attack until turn 3 or late turn 2, at the earliest.  The longer you can keep it out of battle, the better it is to bring a fresh ship in!  If you're bringing in a squadron command ship (Hi Yavaris, we'll get to you in a minute), that's a different plan entirely.

The other thing you can do NOW that Quad Battery Turrets is out is to start your Nebulon at speed 1 and KEEP IT at speed 1 for most of the game.  The ability to throw 4 dice (3 red, 1 blue) for 56 total points is CRAZY nice.  You need to ensure that you're not getting swarmed on the sides and taking heavy fire on those big side arcs, but we'll talk about that below.

Their speed 2 chart isnt great, and their speed 3 isn't AMAZING.  But when you need to get past a ship, that speed 3 chart can actually help you out some.  Just be careful you don't end in an arc that results in you taking a bunch of dice in the side!  As a Rebel, your job is to either NOT be in the arcs that cause you the most harm, or to be out of them before those ships can activate.  With that speed 3 given 2 clicks, you can turn relatively well, but you'll need to use ACTUAL nav commands to get it back in the fight.  The OTHER side of the Neb, the rear, has 2 shields.  Again, its not much, but it may be just enough to keep your ship alive, especially with the 2 brace tokens.

We can file this under "Situations your Neb should hopefully NOT be in."
The Neb acts much like a old-time knight on horseback.  He is charging straight towards you, and he is a murder machine for anything directly in front of him.  If you can avoid him (or negate that front attack), the knight has a hard time turning and getting back into the fight.  Even with Nav commands, he still needs a few turns to get back into having his front arc in a viable arc for attacking.  Assuming the Neb spends turns 1 and 2 in the front arc of a ship (and realistically only getting to fire turn 2!), it won't be spun around again until turn 4 at the earliest!  By that time, much of the fighting will be done, and whatever ship you were trying to turn around and hit will have scooted across half the map by then.  Be aware of that, and try to stay as many turns in front of the enemy as possible.  When you have to bug out, do so, and try to stay alive as you run.

I am not fast....
Again, though, the best way to use the Nebulon that I can see, is to SLOWLY creep forward with them, ensuring that you can keep a ship in your front arc as long as possible.  When you need to, though, increase the speed on your Nebulon and get out of the arc of whatever ship is about to kill you.  If Demolisher is going to head for your sides or the Avenger is waiting to start next turn next to you, jump your speed and get going.  Keeping tokens around is INCREDIBLY helpful for keeping Nebulons alive.  What do I mean?

Well, Nebulons generally want to either have a ship in their front arc or in their back; their shields are strongest there and most able to take damage, especially with their 2 brace tokens.  They want to be able to speed up if necessary in order to hop a ship that's waiting for them.  Alternatively, they may want to even slow down to keep a ship in its front arc for one more turn.  Having a Nav token to drop speed is helpful there too.  Similarly, Nebulons have those horridly shielded side arcs, and they have Engineering 3.  A token would provide Engineering 2, for a total of 5.  That's enough to repair 2 shields and move 1, OR it's the perfect amount to heal 1 damage and repair 1 shield.

Let's do some math together.  Yes, math is fun.  So a brace token halves the damage coming in.  Which means that 2x damage becomes x total.  When damage goes against a Nebulon's side, that's 1 against the shield and the remainder into the hull.  IF you can keep the Nebulon at long or medium range (re: NOT CLOSE), the defense tokens can remove or reroll dice.  So that can potentially even get rid of another damage or 2.  But because of the brace tokens, each point of damage that goes against the shields is really TWO points of damage (assuming you get to brace them).  Each point into the hull is TWO points into the hull, halved.  So when your opponent fires 4 damage into you, bracing it down takes it to 2, 1 into the shield and 1 into the hull.  If you can keep an Engineering token around when you reveal an Engineering command, you can heal the damage that just happened AND repair the shield, meaning their work requires even more effort to kill your Nebulon.  So long as you keep your shields repaired, the Nebulon's 2 Brace tokens CAN keep you alive much longer than you think they would.  This won't necessarily help you if (again) Avenger shows up in your face, but recognizing that and running away will come in time and with proper use.

Titles/Builds

There's 3 titles for Nebulons, and they all perform incredibly different functions with very different builds.  Nebs have 4 spots including the title, and while you CAN put upgrades on all of them, i'm not sure i necessarily would, personally.

Salvation
The Salvation takes the killing power of the front arc of the Nebulon and turns it deadly.  You now have (effectively) 2 basic hit sides on the red dice and 3 DOUBLE hit sides, 2 of them Crit Enabled.  With Opening Salvo or Commander Sato, black dice with Hit+Crits are 3 total damage coming from the front of your ship.  It doesn't improve the side or back arcs, and it doesn't improve the overall crappiness of Red Dice (still got those 2 blank sides, and that accuracy) when you want pure damage.  This is the flanking ship that Shmitty talks about.

General Upgrades/Versions seen on the Salvation.

Support Refit
Title
Raymus Antilles/Intel Officer/Skilled First Officer
Turbolaser Fix

Raymus Antilles is in there because when he Concentrates Fire, he adds in one dice and with his token he can reroll another dice in the pool.  The effects have to happen on the same attack roll (You can't add a dice to the front and use the token to reroll a side shot die).  The other option is to use Intel Officer.  With one great front shot, you want to make that front shot COUNT.  You don't want them using the Evade token to get rid of your Crits, or you don't want them bracing to reduce the damage.

As for Turbolasers, there are several options. I'll outline the majorly used ones:

Spinal Turbolasers: 4 red dice in the front, 3 in the rear.  Concentrate Fire turns that into 5, better than a basic ISD front arc at a significantly reduced cost.  Downside is the 9 points of cost.
Turbolaser Reroute Circuits: Turn one red dice into the Crit you want it to be.  The downside here is that if you ever want to use your Evade for defense, the Evade is gone for good.  It eliminates the use of it as a defense token, so you're dependant on 2 braces to keep you alive.  I'm not a huge fan of that.  On a Rieekan version, this is usually used and discarded on the turn you're dying/dead, because you know you're not getting another chance at it.
Slaved Turrets: 3 points cheaper than Spinal Turbolasers.  You're restricted to 1 attack, and that is a MAJOR downside, even with a weaker side arc.  This one hasn't been used as much since Wave 5 brought us....
Dual Turbolaser Turrets: It's an informed reroll.  If you're concerned about one arc (like you are with the Salvation!) then it's a great use for it.  If you get use out of it from the side arcs, super, but you're intending to save your front arc and Get Dem Crits.
Quad Battery Turrets: The new wave 6 hotness.  So long as you're rolling in slower than the ship you're attacking (where Nebulons are happy to be!), you get an extra blue dice, that has something helpful on EVERY side.  If it's an accuracy, you lock down whatever token is going to inconvenience your red dice.  If it's a hit, it's a hit.  If it's a crit, though, it's that same 2 hits, so long as it's out your front.

Under Salvation, slow rolling in with Quad Battery Turrets is both cheap and great.  Concentrating Fire for 3 red and 2 blue dice is freaking sweet.  It's potentially even 3 red and 3 blue against a Most Wanted Ship.  That's a VSD-II's output for 2/3 of the cost! So nice. And as Quads subtly force you to go slow, it'll keep you ALIVE and firing longer, which is just what you want on your ship!  It's an upgrade that both makes you better at killing and forces you to keep yourself alive through playing better, for the low, low cost of 5 points.  Give Quads a try.

Yavaris
Ah, Yavaris.  Every Imperial Commander's darkest fear.  Motti wakes up in a pool of sweat that Keyan Farlander and 2 friends will get activated twice in his unshielded front arc.  At this point in Wave 5, there's one general version that's often seen.

Yavaris on the Escort Frigate
Flight Commander
Fighter Coordination Team (FCT)

To steal from the comments section on my B-wing article:

It's a combination of all 3 things. Yavaris lets your squadrons attack twice if you don't move, which is great if you're already engaged with squadrons or a ship you want to shoot. If you're NOT, though, it's not as good.  But with the FCT, after your ship moves, you can move (on Yavaris) 2 unengaged squadrons distance 1, which can hopefully let you get them distance 1 of that ship you want to hit.

And what Flight Commander does is lets you trigger your squadrons AFTER your regular attack and move. In general, this lets you put your regular ship damage in and take out some shields and force him to use a defense token or two to not take as much damage. He has squadrons to deal with coming up afterwards, so he might not spend tokens to save them for that. But with Yavaris in particular, FCT lets you move that squadron that wasnt engaged with a ship or squadron into engagement.... so then it can fire TWICE because of the Yavaris ability. But this only works because FCT happens AFTER you move. Flight Commander ALSO triggers after. So you get to move things in and then shoot them twice.


The BEST way to improve on Yavaris is finding a way to get a squadron token on it, so you can activate a third squadron with it.  3 B wings activated twice are equivalent to 6 B wings.  That may not take down a Motti ISD without some bananas rolls and crits, but it'll put a heck of a hurting into it.  I will say, the common problem I see/have as well with Yavaris is that there comes a point around turn 3 or turn 4 where you're activating it and you NEED to get Yavaris out of the situation its in.  If you have a maneuver token, you've got an OK ability to try to run.  But if you slow down earlier in order to stay in the front arc of something.... what it may mean for Yavaris may actually be starting at speed 1 or speed 2 deploying further back in your deployment zone... or finding a way to feed MORE tokens to the Yavaris so it can both maneuver speed and command 3 squadrons a turn (the Tantive IV? A Comms Net GR75? Garm bel Iblis? Hondo Ohnaka?).

The alternative is to just accept the fact that Yavaris is going to die doing what it does (I've become less of a fan of this plan as time goes on, but I'd rather just try to keep my stuff alive).  IFFFFFF you can take out more points than its worth to kill something with it, than it's a good trade.  Piece trading, for all you chess monkeys out there.  Don't trade it for something that doesn't hurt the enemy's plans doing so; as the ability to activate squadrons twice a turn is insane.  Getting 2 6-dice shots from Wedge, rolling against an ISD arc with Keyan twice..... Rebels have some GOOD uses for this ship.

Redemption
The Theodore of the Alvin and the Chipmunks Neb titles (Salvation is the loud, brash Alvin, Yavaris is the thinking Simon), this one isn't used as much.  It's a repair bot, living in the back and hanging out while allowing your other ships to repair better.  The general setup:

Redemption (either chassis)
Raymus Antilles
Projection Experts
Turbolaser Fix to provide SOME offensive output (probably Quad Battery Turrets? Probably?)

Raymus Antilles is the general best officer here, as with the dial, token, and title, you get 6 engineering points.  Ahsoka Tano or Leia could potentially both fit in there, but they're not a necessity.  What this ship does is lurks in the back and keeps passing shields towards bigger ships that need it.  With the title and Projection Experts, you can use 2 of your six Engineering points to push shields to another ship, and then use the remaining 4 points to heal one of the shields you just pushed.  While it's certainly something you CAN do, with the advent of Comms Net flotillas and the Shields to Maximum! Pelta, there's not many major reasons to use THIS repair bot any more.  The Pelta does a much better job of it, as especially with the Shields to Maximum! trigger you can push 3 shields back onto a ship (1 from the Fleet Command, 2 from Projection experts), doing what this ship does only better (and on a slightly more survivable chassis than the Nebulon).  In either case, you CAN fix your ships, or you can focus on making sure their ships are dead.  Why heal damage when you can just prevent damage by killing them?

We'll take ALL the damage off his ships! By killing him!

Take the Yavaris or the Salvation instead.

Commanders
Commander Sato: Loves the potential of the Salvation, but I must recommend caution in your list because black dice DO have 2 blank sides on them.  Raymus Antilles for a reroll on the dice or Targeting Beacons for rerolls.  Much like a lot of Sato, it can be really good or really unlucky.

General Rieekan is great with the Yavaris and the Salvation.  Getting to do their thing one more turn before they go out in a blaze of glory/by ramming that ship for one final damage is always fun.

Garm Bel Iblis: Free tokens are great, and starting your ships with a Maneuver and a Concentrate Fire (Salvation) or Squadrons (Yavaris) work super well together.

Dodonna: Salvation with the ability to choose your crit for the damage is always delightful.

Cracken isn't one I would use too often, as having to stay at speed 3 runs into that same problem we talked about earlier with the turning.  You COULD use it as a finisher, but then you're dependant on speeding up at the right time to get Cracken's benefit.

Mothma runs into the problem of having only one defense token that gets her bonus.  It's a nice insurance policy, but you can do better with her.

Ackbar you CAN, but you're dependant on firing out the sides of an underdefended TWO sides at something that wants, especially with titles, to be firing from the front.  Theoretically, the Redemption might be a good spot here, but Ackbar has many other ships that work just as well for cheaper or do their job better, especially with steering properly.  Pick a different ship is my advice.

General Madine: I've heard of people using either version with him to get those extra clicks of turning when necessary.  I'd rather use the CR90 for cheaper and more maneuverable, or the MC30 for more hitting power.  I don't think it's that great with him, sadly.

Leia: Preliminarily, great.  She works very similarly to Garm, but she keeps them alive SUPER well.  The 5 engineering points is, as I mentioned above, really helpful at healing a damage and repairing a shield on whatever Nebulon you brought with her.  Under Leia, they get the combined Raymus Antilles effect (so an extra squadron for Yavaris or an extra dice and reroll for Salvation) along with a stronger officer candidate for them (Flight Commander and Intel Officer, respectively).  They can get some POWERFUL attacks under her and if you engineer at the right time (something I'm trying to get better with) you can keep it alive and deny them the points for killing it.  High marks for recommendation!

Final Thoughts
It's not the easiest ship to pilot, but my earlier comments about Jousting with it, and it's weirdish turn radius reminds me a lot of the Knight in chess.  Trade up with it to get the enemy Queen or Rook and you've got a good ship.  Don't move it past where it's able to attack from; let them come towards you as much as you can, and you'll be able to threaten well above your weight class with this ship.  Having a knight's shield (Engineering token) that you can put up when in danger (repairing your shield.... this metaphor is getting away from me!) helps a lot, too.  Get out of position with it and much like the knight in chess, it'll take you several movements to be threatening the same area/ship.  Keep this one threatening, but near the back, and you'll do great with it.
You've got two empty halves of coconut and you're bangin' 'em together!

13 comments:

  1. I was pretty successful using Redemption in a Double Liberty build with Projection Experts on Redemption and one of the Liberties, so the title does have some uses.

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    1. Oo nice. I've debated a double LMC80 plan, but it scares me for when things get around the sides. How'd you deal with that? Mess of squadrons?

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    2. A lot of repair commands. Redemption sends two shields, Second Liberty sends 2 more shields and a wounded Liberty repairs for 7 (two cards and shield move) or uses repair token for 3 (one card). The trick is to interleave repair ships activations with opponent carriers activations.

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  2. The rear arc of a neb is underrated.

    Sure the knight cannot turn back into the fight. Dont turn! Shoot from the hip, i mean rear.

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    1. It definitely is. I like spinals on mine for that reason, but sometimes OOF 9 points.

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  3. Hi. I have 3 Nebulons and I am determined to get them all on the table. This article talks a lot about how to use them independently but I am interested in your thoughts and advice on how to run a list with a group of them. Is it a terrible idea?

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    1. I've seen Salvation and Yavaris run well together but more than that usually requires 500 points. Nebulon-Bs do much better with titles, so simply spamming generic Nebulons at the moment feels a bit unwise, but the titles also require some building around and hence the expense. Plus there's not really (at the moment) a 'go to' Nebulon-B commander - they do all right with a few different commanders but nobody seems to really make a "spam Nebulons" approach work yet.

      I think commander Leia (coming out in wave 6) will help Nebulon-Bs in particular but that remains to be seen.

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    2. I will say that someone won a tournament a weekend or two ago with Garm and like 6 Nebulons and 4 Z95s. Dont.... dont do that to start out, haha.

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    3. 6 Nebulons?! That sounds utterly insane haha :D

      I've been thinking and so far this is the list I have put together, though it seems weak to LFC;

      Nebulon-B Support refit
      Mon Mothma
      Dual Turbolaser turrets

      Nebulon_B Escort refit
      Toryn Farr
      Yavaris

      Nebulon_B Escort refit
      Turbolaser reroute Circuits
      Salvation

      Cr90 Corvette B
      Overload Pulse

      Cr90 Corvette B
      Overload Pulse

      Hera Sundulla
      Shara Bey
      Tycho Celchu
      A-wing squadron
      A-wing squadron

      Opening salve
      Fleet ambush
      Dangerous Territory

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    4. I wouldn't overload pulse, but so far seems alright? Maybe sw7s? Can you get a flotilla in there to increase your fighter coverage? Maybe cut a cr90 for it and some other fighters?

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    5. Why not Support Refit on the Salvation, given it's going to be shooting ships most of the time? Also why Yavaris when you're going a bit lighter on squadrons overall and effectively 3 of them will be rogues?

      I'm also not a fan of Overload Pulse, especially on CR90Bs. SW7s are very good on CR90Bs and if you'd like to go for more of a "long ranged harassment" fleet I'd consider CR90As if you can find the points. Especially with Opening Salvo.

      In terms of objectives, they look okay with the exception of Fleet Ambush, which can be used against you by shorter-ranged ships that want to rush your long-ranged ships early on. I'd recommend changing it out.

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  4. Alright, thanks a lot guys. I'll make some adjustments! :)
    Haven't used overload pulse before, I thought it sounded like it might of worked, the CR90's rush in from the flanks and disable ships and the Nebulons could focus the disabled ships down.

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  5. Oh my mistake the salvation is support refit, not escort.

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