Wednesday, March 15, 2017

CR90 Corvette: Everyone's First Ship

We all heard that opening score, we all saw that crawl, and then we saw it: the first ship on the screen, our representation for this galaxy.  The opening that would be the Make it or Break it for this film, and George Lucas delivered.  We all saw it, the greatest ship in the galaxy:

Yup, this is why we're all in this game: A CR90 fleeing some unknown ship of some type or another
That's right, the CR90 Corvette.  The best ship the Rebellion had to offer in 1977 (the Nebulon didn't even show up until 1980! And we had to walk 26 miles uphill to the theater, too, kids!), this was going to be our baby.  Hit the jump for the Cool Reason We All Love Star Wars That's Totally Not a Star Destroyer!
So let's start with some pictures of what we're talking about.

Are they Corellian? Are they Alderaanian? Who cares, they're AWESOME! (Guitar solo)
Break it Down Now, Y'all.
They both have 4 HP, and 2 shields across everywhere but the rear.  With no brace tokens, and just one redirect token, this is a ship that does NOT like taking damage.  Its engineering of 2 also isn't ecstatic about FIXING damage, as you'll need to have a token and a command to get rid of any faceup damage.

Luckily, they have 2 Evade defense tokens to let them try to not take damage, and they have a 1-command stack.  The ability to change what they need to do (Engineering! Concentrate Fire! Navigation!) on a dime lets them fill many roles in many fleets.  Their squadron value of 1 isn't good, but it.... exists.  Again, there's 3 better commands for them, use those instead.  The A version has a Turbolaser Slot and some red dice, and the B version has an Ion Cannon Slot and only blue.  Other than that, identical.

So how do you run them? Use their nav chart.  At speed 2 with a command dial, they're equivalent to Raiders, and at speeds 3 and 4 they're much better than raiders, with an extra click at the end there.  Plus, with the dial used at the right spot, that's potentially TWO spots you can have 2 clicks at, which can put you right where you need to be.  What CR90s do has often been referred to as Kiting, "to kite", in which they throw their dice and flutter away from your ships like a kite in the wind.  THAT, do that.  You can't handle sustained shots, and you REALLY don't want to be in the front arc of ISDs, so don't be there.  Shoot, then scoot.  Fire, then flee.

Generally, start them at speed 2 or 3, and move them later in the turn if you can.  You're going to want to end turn X at (preferably) red range or further from your opponent's ships.  When they move in to your range at turn X+1, fire, and repeat.  See the pictures below for an example of what I'm talking about.  This holds true for the CR90A.  CR90B's have a similar idea, but... we'll get to that.

The CR90 started outside of the ISD's arc, so it was unable to be fired on at that time.  The ISD had to move in closer in order to fire on it.

Pulling a Nope and getting out of there after firing on the ISD.
Titles
There are 3 titles that the CR90 has, although competitively you often only see one.  Let's start with that one:
Stuck between a rock and a hard place.  Yes, I'm proud of that pun.
The Jaina's Light is a GREAT title for 2 points.  This seems like one that you'd only use once or twice a game, but it's so useful.  Instead of being a "where can i go?" plan, Navigating becomes a "How do i hurt my opponent most?" Jumping into asteroids and making yourself obstructed (especially against Bomber clouds!), grabbing Dangerous Territory tokens with impunity, etc.  It's a great way to not need to worry about asteroids or debris, and ensure that you'll be right where you need to be next turn to shoot an enemy with both arcs.  It's not hard to find the 2 points for this title, and it's well worth it.
The Pride of West Yavin 4! Go Wildcats, or whatever team name our school has!
I literally just talked about the Dodonna's Pride Monday, but for a quick rehash: this goes great on CR90Bs.  If you get regular damage, then use the regular damage.  If you get the crit, then use that instead.  The one damage right into the hull (that's also faceup! Maybe you'll hit a Structural!) is much stronger than 2 or 3 into the shields.  Hitting the crit is a great way to remove 20% of Demolisher's health.  Because of the way crits work (you get to choose one, unless you have Fire-Control Team), I would not pair this with any other blue crit effects, and I wouldn't put this on a CR90A.  One blue dice per side is NOT a great chance to roll something you're paying 6 points for.

Titles I swear exist, Volume 2.
The last title is the Tantive IV, the ship Princess Leia was running on at the start of New Hope and (Spoiler Alert) the end of Rogue One.  Acting much like a flotilla with Comms Net, you can pass tokens from the Tantive IV to another ship that might want them.  Say, an Assault H1MC80.  Its captain in the film, Raymus Antilles....

I think he choked on his aspirations.
Its FORMER captain, Raymus Antilles goes great with the title.  The way this all works, assuming you have both Raymus Antilles and the Tantive IV title on the same ship, is as follows:

1) You reveal a command.  Raymus Antilles says "Here, have a token."*  Tantive IV passes it to someone else.
2) You resolve the command, taking it as an actual command, or taking it as a token.  If you take it as a token, again, the Tantive IV passes it to someone else (if desired. Maybe you want to keep it for yourself!).

The reason I have that * in there is that if you have Asoka Tano in there, she would want to change the token to something else HERE if you wanted to pass the tokens to the same ship (say again, that H1MC80).  I like the idea of the title, but finding 10 more points on TOP of a basic CR90 build (below) is not an easy thing to find, especially when I can get the same double tokens passed for 40 points (2 basic GR75s with Comms Nets) which ALSO gives me 2 ship activations as opposed to the Tantive IV's 1.  The Tantive DOES have better firepower than the 2 together though, and it works better under Ackbar and in Corellian Conflict.

The thing about the title is that it's basically a Veteran Captain in Title form.
My name is Placeholder Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to receive a token!
Same cost, but the Tantive IV is in the title slot.  It ALSO takes a "one turn" prep/dial before you can use it, as compared to Vet Captain, but you can get multiple uses out of it... assuming you're within 5 of the Tantive IV when it activates.  There's tradeoffs on both, but it depends on what you want and what you need when you need it.  So long as you get one use out of it, it's just as good as a Veteran Captain.  Even if you only do it turn 1 as prep for 2-3 turns from now, you got your money's worth.  If you get 2 uses out of it, then you've beaten Vet Captain in usage.  Don't try to force things, necessarily, though, as that leads to bad planning and maneuvering on your part.  Turn 1 is a great time to use it, and turn (handwave) 4 or 5.  This plan assumes turn 2 you're navigating to where you need to and turn 3 you're concentrating fire on the ship while you run away turn 4 or 5.  Kiting, always kiting.

CR90A
"Size matters not"
This is the basic CR90 that you see pretty often.  This one flies as I said before.  Kiting away at most signs of trouble.  With the decent maneuvering, you're going to want to double arc things as much as possible.  The reason you'll want to double arc is because of the standard upgrade found on it:

Common Upgrades and Usage
Turbolaser Reroute Circuits (TRCs)
Scourge of the Imperial Navy!
There's one upgrade found on CR90s most of the time, and it turns them from minor annoyances to murderous little jerks.  Red dice are the most fickle dice, so being able to manipulate one and turn its side to a double hit can just cause angering amounts of damage.  Rolling out the side, if the blue dice gets a hit, the red dice makes it 3 damage out the side.  3 damage that needs to be redirected or braced and just like squadrons, 3 damage getting braced goes down to 2 and it is frustrating to deal with.  Now imagine them in swarms with several CR90s using these! Possibly even with Intel Officers (see below)!

TRCs turned CR90s ON when they showed up.  The basic ability to guarantee minimum 2 damage from a red dice and fix any blanks you roll is such a pain to deal with.  The damage comes in such small amounts that it's hard to use defense tokens effectively.... just like squadron fighting!  These upgrades are so commonly seen on CR90As that they'll often be referred to as TRCR90s.  It's 51 points of great support that'll plug into most lists and does a job very well.  They add in damage on ships either early in the turn, forcing them to consider spending defense tokens or leaving unshielded parts of the hull, or they add in later when your other ships have gone, causing the unshielded opponent ship to take more damage.

Because of the new FAQ, these are much less powerful (the card is now an exhaust effect), but it still lets you change one blank into a double hit, guaranteeing you at least SOME damage. You can't roll perfectly every time, and TRCs helps you with that.

Every other (non title) upgrade usually found on CR90As is just for doing what it does better.

Intel Officer

Fun fact: running 4 of these on 4 CR90s is considered a potential war crime in parts of Russia.
With guaranteed damage at long range, (using those TRCs!) the one worry you have about them is making sure that your damage doesn't get Evaded or Braced away.  Intel Officer ensures that if it happens once, it's not happening again.  Unless your opponent is playing Tagge (which, at this point, very few are, competitively) or running Devastator (see Tagge, or Eric's article about whether or not to run the Devastator title), no opponent wants to give up their defense tokens.  Making their ships easier to destroy in the future at the cost of preventing some small damage NOW is never a great choice.  If you're putting them on CR90s, you want multiples.  One Intel Officer is something you can avoid and plan around.  Several turns them into a constant struggle of what to do with your fleet, forcing your opponent into multiple bad choices.

I also usually recommend using them on the front arc shot, but you do you.  Target Evades first on ships (so they can't get rid of your Double Hits), then go for the Brace Tokens (so they can't minimize your damage).  By the time you get rid of both of those, the Redirects are nearing the end of their usefulness, but they should be your next targets.  If after all this, they still have a Contain token? Go for that.  If after all that their ship still isn't dead and you feel sad that your Intel Officers aren't working anymore, well then I'm sorry Motti's Reinforced Blast Doors ISD is giving you trouble.  Make sure, given the choice of tokens you have, that you target a Green (Ready) defense token.  Any Red token they have is already going to go away if they use it again.

CR90B
"Adventure, excitement. A Jedi craves not these things. You are reckless!"
So I've seen a few people (not as many as Eric's Raider Haterz!) complain that CR90B's are not good/useless.  First, no.  Second, still no.  They don't act the same as CR90As, but they act similarly.  Kiting, moving from into range to out of range/not getting shot in the front arc from ISDs, etc.   However, because they're firing blue dice, they need to be at a range that can lead to problems.  Eric mentioned before in the Victory Article that the difference between blue and black range isn't much.  You may want to shoot ISD-Is in the side arcs... keep range in mind when you're rolling up in their sides, as those black dice can HURT.  And with you in short range, your (non-Mon Mothma) Evade tokens don't work.  Careful is the watchword, and careful is how you can keep them alive.  How do you make them worth it, though?  THEIR one upgrade that turns them on:

Common Upgrades and Usage
SW-7 Ion Batteries


The benefit of the SW7s is that they turn every dice the CR90B rolls into a hit.  Roll 3 accuracies? It was 3 hits all along! Roll 2 hits and an accuracy? It's an accuracy (hunting flotillas?) if you want or 3 hits if you need it.  It ensures that no matter what you roll, you're guaranteed damage into the ship you're firing on.  Furthermore, if your opponent tries to make you reroll (Lando, their own Evade token), you still roll 3 damage.  Even if you reroll into those 3 accuracies, they aren't spent (based on timing windows), and then here comes 3 damage.  Lando becomes useless here, which is news to make a lot of people happy.

The common way I've seen CR90B's used is under Rieekan.  Rieekan starts in medium range with the CR90B, rolls 5 total damage (6 if concentrating fire! 8 if under Most Wanted!) and then rams into the face of the opponent ship you need stuck in place.  Start of next turn, roll that damage (definitely concentrate fire here!) and ram him again.  He's going to ram your ship, and you're going to end up ramming him.  So 44 points of ship just did 5/6 (rolled) + 1 (ram) + 6 (roll, CF) + 1 (ram) + 1 (ramming a dead Rieekan ship).  14 minimum damage to your ship, 3 of which went straight to the hull through ramming.  PLUS, you've got the enemy ship stuck in place, so by now you've hopefully gotten your other ships into place as well.  Do that with 2 of these, and that's the 14 from the first one and then 12ish from the second (rolling and ramming, in some fashion).  26 damage, 88 points.  That is horrifying.

You can do a similar trick with most other commanders, but I would ram the first time and then run away at the start of the second turn.  It's a cheaper MC30 bombing run (we'll talk about those soon enough, I promise), but you need to get away fast.  ISD front arcs are, as I'll restate constantly, not somewhere to spend your time.

To enhance that ramming ability, there's 2 upgrades that are starting to see play on CR90s.
Engine Techs
Whoa-oh Black Betty, bam-ba-lam
The best thing to do after ramming is, of course, more ramming.  Demolisher uses them to finish off ships, why shouldn't you use them too? Oh, because they cost 8 points on a 44 point ship. That makes your ship 15% more expensive just so you can do another 1-2 damage all game.  It's nice in that you can get a free double click at the end of each movement, but you're already pretty maneuverable in that I don't think it's necessarily needed.  If you're going CR90 Ram Spam, with 6-8 of these (I personally wouldn't), they have merit, but for what they do versus the cost, I'm not a fan.

You can also add in Reinforced Blast Doors (RBD).
Not just for MC80s anymore!
First note: this only discards face DOWN damage.  Second, this doesn't work if you're dead.  You may need to pop this one early when you only have 2 damage in order to keep yourself alive.  But if you've rammed a ship 2-3 times, then it's a great thing to pop to get one more turn of ramming or 5 base blue damage.

I'll note that RBD can go on a CR90A, but you're not usually ramming much with them, so I don't necessarily think it's super worth it.  Putting your commander on Jaina's Light, though, means it's not a BAD idea to have RBD on there.

As for other upgrades, here's a picture of them all! Let me then explain afterwards why I don't like them on CR90Bs!

Here's the story... of some blue upgrades.... that were bringing up three very lovely girls!
First, let's start with the fact that Blue Crits are unreliable... in fact, just as reliable as rolling accuracies on your dice.  4 of these trigger off of rolling those blue crits, so they aren't guaranteed.  For the points I'm paying for them all (Looking at YOU, NK-7s!) I can't guarantee they'll ever actually get what I need them to roll.  Second, the results they give you aren't always that great.  You can only pick ONE (this includes the SW7s)  Let's go upgrade by upgrade here:

NK-7 Ion Cannons: Ripping away defense tokens are GREAT! But 10 points for it to potentially roll a crit, to let your opponent choose and remove one of his defense tokens (THEIR CHOICE, NOT YOURS BOOOOOO) isn't as great as it could be.  You have to hope you roll correctly, but you also get stuck dealing with those occasional rolls where instead of Crit/Hit, you get Hit/Accuracy out of your side arc (I'm going to refer to this below as CHHA, for ease of shortening the writeup).  Not great, when you could have had a guaranteed extra hit from that arc instead (by using SW7s).  Or even worse, Accuracy/Accuracy.  Because of how defense tokens work, too, remember, you choose the critical effect AFTER they choose what tokens they'll use.  So by paying 3 points MORE than an Intel Officer, I get to tell an opponent that he's forced to spend/use a Defense Token for my damage.  It DOES remove a token, but they still get to use it.  If your opponent is smart, he'll use it anyways so he gets some use before it vanishes.  I may have ripped away a Brace token, but look at everything that had to happen:
  • I had to be in range and not dead
  • I had to roll the crit 
  • And still have it in the pool after their defense tokens were spent (guess what their Evade is going to target first!)
  • And I need to find a way to capitalize on that in future turns, else I've just made them discard a defense token for no reason.  My ships have to be waiting to strike the ship again.
Don't get me wrong, ripping Brace tokens from ISDs is cool. But that is a lot of setup work that can be accomplished better using other plans.  The OTHER problem with this upgrade is for literally 1 point more, I could have had SW7s and the Dodonna's Pride title.  If I get the crit, cool, but if I don't, then I'm still dealing my regular side damage.  You're not built around swingy damage that may or may not work; you get consistency to do what you need to do.

Overload Pulse: CHHA, and the fact that putting Overload Pulse on a ship telegraphs your movements and intentions.  Eric covered it more extensively, but don't use Overload Pulse.

High Capacity Ion Turbines: Sweet! an Extra Dice out the side! Which you'll use.... what, once or twice all game? If you concentrate fire, you go up to 4 blue dice, and you can then add 2 more reds if you have Ackbar, but this is a lot of setup for a very handwavey overdone plan that could be made better elsewhere.  If your CR90 is in a place where you're firing out of both side arcs at the same time, that is a CR90 that should probably get out of that location FAST, before it explodes.  If you have 2 medium ships in range, that means you're in range of 2 medium arcs yourself.  That... is not an ideal way to stay alive.  And since you're not getting a crit effect here, why not spend 4 less points and just use SW7s? CR90s are command 1, you can easily Concentrate Fire on the turn you need to, and on the ship you're hopefully double arcing.

Ion Cannon Batteries: I want to like this card.  But maaaaan, CHHA.  If I had to pick a different upgrade to use, it WOULD be this one, as its abilities are very good.  Removing a Command Token or an extra shield? Great!  But you have to realize that you're going to have some turns where you roll like crap and there really won't be anything you can do about it.  There's a potential plan where you either play Opening Salvo or Targeting Beacons, but that's dependent on your opponent picking your Red objective.  Not a great plan.

Leading Shots: So you remove one dice to reroll the other? This fixes Crit/Hit, Accuracy, Accuracy or Accuracy, Accuracy.  It doesnt fix Crit/Hit and Accuracy out the side.  Why not pay a point more and get those SW7s?

MS-1 Ion Cannons: You exhaust an upgrade card.  Right now, that's helpful, but CHHA.  If you're trying to keep the ship cheap, what do you need the 2 points more for than SW7s? And you don't even know if your opponent is going to bring anything like Engine Techs, Phylon Q7 Tractor Beams, or Electronic Countermeasures! It's an interesting idea, but it's just not something you can plan on using against your opponent as much as Ion Cannon Batteries or the Pride/SW7 combo.
Wedge blew up the Second Death Star! And I helped!
Commanders that love the CR90
Dodonna: TRCR90s can pull crits with their shots, triggering Dodonna's ability, and the Pride SW7 combo is a bargain bin MC30 with APTs on it.

General Cracken: Cracken LOVES TRCR90s.  They let him use his ability while still running everywhere you need them to be.  A common version of a Cracken list is a Bright Hope GR75, 4 TRCR90s, and 8 YT2400s.  Zoom everywhere, shoot everything.

Mon Mothma: Both CR90s, actually.  Because of her ability, she can use the Evade tokens in closer with the CR90B, and the CR90A is a great lifeboat for her on the Jaina's Light.

General Madine: TRCR90s love navigating.  Why not make them better at it?

Rieekan: CR90B ramming, and TRCR90 shooting.  One of the last Regionals this season was won by a CR90B ram list with Engine Techs and Reinforced Blast Doors.  It is... certainly a list, but we'll see what happens now that Wave 6 has been REVEALED!

Sato: Sato is one of the few people who can run basic CR90s with no turbolaser upgrades (or with Enhanced Armaments, potentially? I'm exploring the idea...). By changing out the red dice for black dice, you can be flinging black dice from your side arc (2 with Enhanced Armament), which don't want to be using Red Dice manipulation from TRCs.  You can also use the Dodonna's pride on a CR90A at long range, but.... why pay more points if you don't need to?

Admiral Ackbar: 3 red dice out the side of a TRCR90? YES PLEASE! And if you put it on the Jaina's Light, you're able to fire through your own ship with your full battery! Ackbar loves using TRCR90s to run all over in between his slower, bigger ships.

Why not Garm? Because his benefit of 1 token isn't as strong as if you could put in a ship with 2 or 3 command value, to get the most tokens for your buck.  I'm not saying "Don't take these with Garm" so much as "there's got to be better options for you."
Sailing away from any troubles it finds
Final Thoughts
As much as I joked at the beginning of the article about how the CR90 is everyone's first ship, it is a pretty great building block for most lists.  Cheap to upgrade, works well with most commanders, and self-reliant enough that you don't need to worry too much about supporting them, they're a great way to finish out a list and add in one more ship that can deal great supportive damage.

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