Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Armada wave 6 spoilers!

Hoo boy, this is exciting! Our first Armada wave spoiler as a blog! We interrupt your objective coverage and squadron articles to bring you this spoiler article!

Get hype!


Of course it's a triangle. It's always a triangle.
Quick note: FFG updated this image from yesterday, so some things have changed! I'm using the newest version.

So here's what we can tell about the Quasar Carrier from this spoiler image alone:
  • It has a brace and redirect defense token - not too great for any ship, much less a medium.
  • It has 2 shields in every arc but the back, which has 1.
  • It has at least an offensive retrofit and weapon team slot.
  • It is command 2, Squadron 4(!), and Engineering 2.
  • Its speed is at least 2 (they never set the speed dial above the max speed, and on occasion it is set at 1 below the max speed).
  • We can see two different ship variants between the display model and the ship card: one has only blue dice in the front arc and blue flak. The display model has red dice in the front arc (and sides) and a red flak dice, which would be the first-ever red flak dice in Armada.
  • It is a medium base ship.
Thoughts, in no particular order:
  • Red flak dice could be pretty amazing. That would go very well with Agent Kallus.
  • Access to an offensive retrofit slot and a weapon team slot makes this a very good ship for Flight Controllers and Expanded Hangar Bays or Boosted Comms.
  • This gives the Imperials a third medium-base ship, one that is presumably on the cheaper end of the spectrum (it has very poor shields and batteries for a medium ship). This should be pretty cost-effective for Konstantine and Motti.
  • That is one huge front arc. I don't think any other ship in the game (even star destroyers) have a front arc that big. Keeping it shielded is going to require some effort.
  • Engineering 2 is going to hurt when paired with that quite-punchable huge front arc.
  • Given its base stats are so poor I'm expecting it to be quite cheap, especially for a medium base ship. Likely in the mid to high 50s points range.
On to the Quasar upgrades!
She's too cool to look at explosions!

There are two neat things Sloane allows your squadrons to do:

1) Spend accuracy icons to spend defender's defense tokens.
It should be noted that this applies to more than just ships. If your TIEs are attacking an ace squadron and it has a scatter, you can spend an accuracy to spend the scatter, flipping it to red. This puts that scatter ace in a bad spot. If the scatter was already exhausted (red), then you can spend it again, discarding it. You can do this with any accuracy icon dice against any target, so be on the lookout for exhausted defense tokens you can spend to discard entirely. This works on any friendly squadron attack, so it works on Counter attacks as well. Please note you can only do this once per squadron attack but it's still vicious! Obviously blue dice squadron attacks are best with this ability. Black dice have no accuracy icons and red dice have half the accuracy icons (one chance in eight) as blue dice.

2) While attacking a ship, squadrons can reroll one die with a critical icon.
This helps your non-bomber squadrons produce more consistent damage. It takes a TIE Fighter from a 50% chance to produce damage to a 62.5% chance to produce one damage when attacking a ship (and gives you at least a chance to reroll to an accuracy, which is an annoyance even if it's not damage). This would be particularly fun with TIE Phantoms, who roll 2 very swingy red dice against ships and would like the ability to reroll those crits for another chance at damage or an accuracy (with Sloane).

As the first Imperial commander that directly benefits squadrons, I'm quite excited for Sloane. She seems like she'll want a fleet that goes a bit heavier on anti-squadron squadrons than usual and can leverage those into benefits for the capital ships. A fleet that runs 134 points of TIE Fighters and enough flotillas/carriers to command them is not going to do that very well, though, so finding a good balance will be important.

What a day! What a lovely day!
Neat, it's a two-slot upgrade!

So the interesting thing with Boarding Troopers is they trigger upon revealing a command and you discard a squadron token or (worse plan) squadron dial and discard the card to trigger their effect. You could for example discard a squadron token to use them and then spend a squadron dial afterward to activate squadrons normally, because the Boarding Troopers are not part of a squadron command.

Anyways, it should be noted that when used they spend enemy defense tokens up to your squadron value. That means you can't double-spend enemy defense tokens by "spending" extra squadron points on them, as there's no mechanism for double-choosing. So if a Squadron 4 ISD sent Boarding Troopers at an Assault Frigate, it would spend all 3 of its defense tokens (flipping green to red or discarding red altogether) and the 4th point would be wasted.

This has a lot of synergy with any ships that find themselves wanting to duke it out at short range and with a free offensive retrofit and weapon team slot. What comes to mind are VSD-Is (particularly under Jerjerrod, where they're more maneuverable) and ISD-Is. The ISD-I in particular if it has the Avenger title - you can spend enemy defense tokens to red and then wallop them with your front arc with no defense token spending allowed. It gets even better under Darth Vader for dice rerolls for maximum pain (and because you gave up your Ordnance Experts for the Boarding Troopers). You could equip it to a Raider, but I don't want to give up Ordnance Experts on a Raider-I for a one-use one-defense-token-spend effect. It could be okay maybe on a Raider-II that's designed to hunt flotillas, but I'm not enthusiastic about it either way. Assault Frigates can also definitely use them, but given Assault Frigates really want to stay at long to medium range and Boarding Troopers need close range, it feels anti-synergistic.

They also have obvious synergy with Sloane - send in the Boarding Troopers to spend defense tokens and then hit that ship with fighters who roll accuracy icons to spend the exhausted enemy tokens, discarding them.

They use the buddy system so nobody gets lost. Hold hands, everyone!
So here's what we can tell about the Hammerhead Corvettes pack from the spoiler image:
  • You get two ships, which have doubled up everything. So those ships themselves have:
    • Command 1
    • A redirect, evade, and contain defense token
    • Maximum speed of at least 3.
    • A weapon team and offensive retrofit slot.
    • You can assume that at least the Torpedo Corvette has an ordnance slot due to the External Racks card (we're getting to it!)
    • One of the variants has black dice in its front and side arcs and black flak (presumably the Torpedo Corvette) and the other has blue flak and no longer-ranged dice in its arcs. Neither ship gets any anti-ship dice in its rear arc.
    • The corvettes have 5 hull, which helps make up for their poor shields.
  • We can see that the ships are very front-arc heavy with a generous arc, moderate dice batteries there, and 3 shields. Their non-front hull zones are poor with one or no dice and only one shield.
  • There are a lot of face-down cards but given the article description I think it's safe to assume most of those are duplicates of the non-unique cards we can already see.
  • Notice that there are 3 title cards and only one of them is unique. The other two are Task Force (unknown)", which would indicate some kind of usage together given the article describes them as operating in pairs. Very interesting and the first case of a non-unique title in the game!
  • We can just barely make out commander Leia Organa, who we can barely make out says: "When a friendly ship resolves a command by spending a command dial, if it had not resolved another command that round, it may perform that command as if it spent a matching command token. If it does, that ship cannot resolve additional commands that round."
Thoughts, in no particular order:
  • Non-unique titles, wow!
    • I'm very curious as to how they interact with one another. Maybe simultaneous activations? Maybe some kind of buff if a friend is nearby? Hard to say for sure just yet.
  • Definitely designed as a ramming/front arc ship. It doesn't have a lot of shields or dice outside that front arc. 5 hull makes it stand up to ramming/overlapping better than equivalent corvettes, though.
    • It seems like they deliberately did not allow for a support team slot so it can't abuse Engine Techs to double-ram. That's good.
  • It's definitely inferior in most base stats to a CR90B, so I think a points cost in the mid-30s is pretty likely.
  • Leia looks quite legit for fleets that want to use specialist ships that will love getting to dial+token consistently. Particularly for lower-command fleets and the like. She's kind of a weird Garm that way, but still potentially very powerful. Yavaris can always resolve a squadron command with +1 squadron, Salvation can always concentrate fire for one more die and a reroll, your ships can always repair for Engineering + 1/2 Engineering (rounded up), which is very good for letting your Engineering 2 ships remove damage cards and for giving your Engineering 3 ships 5 repair points consistently. John quickly realized that you can use a Pelta for Entrapment Formation to "cheat-manage" your fleet speed while focusing on Leia-boosted non-navigate commands. Pretty sweet!
My face is up here, stop staring at my racks!
Give me all of the External Racks! I mean hey, this is going to be a great ordnance upgrade. Three things to note about it:
1) It is stupid cheap.
2) You can add the two black dice against anything you attack at close range out of any arc, even a squadron.
3) IT IS STUPID CHEAP

External Racks is going to be a great choice to add to ships that don't normally fill their ordnance slots. This covers two basic kinds of ships:
1) Ships that are very cheap, like Raiders and presumably Hammerheads, but don't have the number of black dice to get use from black crit upgrades and don't normally want to fork out the fat points for something like Expanded Launchers on such a fragile ship.
2) Ships that generally only get use from black dice maybe once a game, like the Assault Pelta and the VSD-I. Sometimes your VSD gets to use its black dice, sometimes it doesn't. 3 points is quite adequate for a "sometimes this gets to happen" style of upgrade. Even if something is trying to sneak by the side arcs of your Pelta or VSD, they still get to eat extra missiles. Hooray!

Raiders being able to use it against squadrons is extra fun. One particularly naughty squadron can eat a 4 black dice flak attack once per game with rerolls from Ordnance Experts.

Honestly I think the competitiveness of a Raider spam fleet just went up due to External Racks. I would love to try 4 of them (plus friends) under Vader or Ozzel.

Garel is a jerk!
You ram folks, they get extra sad. Expect to see this in lots of Dodonna fleets and pray that I'm right about no Engine Techs for Hammerheads or else this title is going to be NUTS.

So we find the damage, and then we reverse fix it? Got it!
The second of the two Boarding Dudemans upgrades, Boarding Engineers also use up both an offensive retrofit and a weapon team slot. They both work at close range and they both require discarding a squadron dial or token and the upgrade card to use. The main difference is Boarding Engineers can flip a bunch of damage cards face-up depending upon their ship's Engineering value  whereas Boarding Troopers go after defense tokens depending upon their ship's Squadron value.

At a casual glance, I like Boarding Troopers more as their effect seems to be more useful at different points of the game. Boarding Engineers can certainly produce a very powerful effect (especially if you can flip 4 face-down damage cards on a large ship face-up; oof that would be awful to be on the receiving end of) but they're relying on the enemy ship having a number of face-down damage cards already but not being destroyed just yet. It seems designed to be equipped to the Hammerhead, which will quite likely be Squadron 1 but Engineering 2 or 3 and is clearly designed to inflict face-down damage to enemy ships through ramming. Just get your Hammerhead to survive through a ram or two, pop your Boarding Engineers, and then hopefully you can still survive to do something else.

Other than the Hammerhead (which is guesswork for sure), I could maybe see using this with a ram-oriented Raider-II that's trying to hunt flotillas, but it's very iffy and not really the kind of thing that seems strong enough to go out of your way to include in a fleet.

Final thoughts
It's shaping up to be a very exciting wave and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what else gets spoiled for the Quasar and Hammerhead prior to their release in 2-3 months!