Friday, March 10, 2017

Imperial Commander Review: Admiral Ozzel

Admiral Ozzel? Isn't he that guy who was as clumsy as he was stupid? Didn't Vader choke him out over Skype?

Pictured: Piett is tired of Admiral Ozzel's workplace yodeling.
Vader's all like "quit all that yodeling, already, I'm sick of hearing about it!"
In all seriousness, though, who is in the mood for a shorter article? John and I have been releasing beastly long articles lately so it's time for a nice short commander review!

Let's start with a review of how Admiral Ozzel's ability functions.
  • Ozzel's ability triggers whenever you resolve a navigate command. Remember that spending a navigate dial and/or token counts as resolving a navigate command.
  • Ozzel can thus allow a ship to change its speed by up to 3 in one turn = 1 from a nav dial, 1 from a nav token, and 1 from Mustachio himself.
  • His ability can also trigger when resolving a navigate command "differently." The only current example is the upgrade card Nav Team which allows you to, when spending a navigate token during a navigate command, add 1 yaw instead of changing your speed. That's still a navigate command, so Ozzel would allow you when using just a nav token with Nav Team to change your speed by 1 in addition to adding 1 yaw.
Admiral Ozzel is the cheapest Imperial commander and tied for cheapest commander in the game with the Rebel Alliance's General Dodonna. This doesn't seem like a big deal at first, but cheap commanders always have value simply due to the fact that they're cheap. Back in wave one, you saw Dodonna in a lot of fleets he didn't really do much for simply because he was cheap and thus there were a few more points lying around to spend on other things. Ozzel similarly allows you to squeeze in just a few more points than anyone else and that can be valuable. The good news (for both Ozzel and Dodonna) is with a more mature game nowadays there are plenty of options, so you don't need to worry about wasting your commander ability on mediocre combinations.
Ozzel shines in a fleet of speed 3+ ships that like to use navigate commands where he can get optimal use of his ability to change speeds rapidly. For that reason I find he works well with lighter Imperial ships. Normally I don't like to focus too much on individual ship types in commander reviews, but some uses with Ozzel bear mentioning and I promise I'll do my best to keep it short  😉.

Raiders are one of Ozzel's favorite ships, which is appropriate given his upgrade card comes bundled with them. I find this comes into play with three of my favorite Ozzel Raider tricks:
1) Going from speed 2 to 4 and back. If you bank a navigate token earlier in the game, you can use a navigate dial to "pounce" by going from speed 2 to 4 and also benefit from the extra yaw from the dial. The subsequent turn you can concentrate fire or repair while using your navigate token to crank the speed back down to 2, which already has maximum yaw on both joints. Basically, Ozzel lets you "hop over" the mediocre speed 3 setting on Raiders.
2) Going from speed 1 to 4. It can be extraordinarily difficult to predict where a speed 1 Ozzel Raider is actually going to wind up provided it has a navigate dial and token to spend. Stay at 1? Go all the way up to 4? 2, maybe 3? When playing against other more aggressive fleets I have really enjoyed the ability to be extremely cagey with my Raiders at speed 1 to wait and see what openings present themselves as the enemy fleet comes barreling at me at high speed.
3) Temporary speed 0. Sometimes the best defense is simply not being shot at all. Normally going to speed 0 is a dubious plan, but when you can accelerate back up to at least speed 2 and maybe speed 3 next turn you don't fall into the trap of being both speed 0 and extremely predictable in your future movement. Stopping right outside of enemy attack range at speed 0 can be something opponents just did not account for. I do this maneuver more frequently than I would've thought initially, and it catches opponents by surprise when they were sure they "had" you.

Gladiators also really appreciate Ozzel. Specifically, Ozzel allows Gladiators to go from their speed 3 "attack run" setting to their speed 1 "wait and see/tight turning" setting and back with a single nav dial or token, and this will also trigger Engine Techs. A speed 1 Demolisher accelerating to speed 3 + an extra Engine Techs move can get ugly and difficult to predict with great accuracy. It just adds insult to injury when the next turn it uses a nav token to slow down to speed 1 + another speed 1 move with Engine Techs to do a tight turn (a pair of 2-click maneuvers) to get back into the fight pronto.

Gozantis are the last ship I'll specifically mention. For most cases, I find my Gozantis like to be going speed 1 when they're trying to stay at distance, perform some minor support roles, and waste activations. They like to be going speed 3 when danger is approaching and it's time to step on the gas and get out of trouble. Ozzel helps them do this with minimal additional hassle, which lets them spend more time commanding squadrons or passing out Comms Net tokens. On that note, I'd like to add that Comms Net Gozantis can come in handy with Ozzel by providing nav tokens to ships that would like to keep abusing Ozzel's speed change shenanigans and/or by providing the occasional non-navigate token to a ship that's mainlining navigate commands (Gladiators and Raiders really don't mind the occasional repair token when the Gozantis get some breathing room, for example).

Beyond that, any ship that can go up to speed 3 works fine with Ozzel even if the synergy isn't as strong as it might be with other commanders. Speed 2 or less ships obviously get little to no benefit and should be avoided.

Small Ship Swarm
This is where Ozzel is most comfortable overall. Fill up your fleet with Raiders, Gladiators, Gozantis, and maybe an Arquitens or two and get ready to command a swarm of smaller very maneuverable ships with extraordinary speed control. It takes a bit of practice to get the hang of, but the ability to control the game tempo and end up in inconvenient places is extremely fun. This is the kind of fleet I brought to the early 2017 Regionals and it's just a blast.

Small ships + ISD(s?)
Similar to the above, but putting Ozzel on an ISD. You won't get the same activation advantage, but you still get some neat tricks with the extra benefit of the biggest angriest triangle in the galaxy stomping about as an impressive flagship. The main issue with this kind of fleet is it can be tough to fit an upgraded Demolisher Gladiator, an ISD, and an adequate number of other ships into the same fleet and so the ISD often comes at the expense of the Demolisher and is then accompanied by a number of Raiders, Gozantis, and Arquitens to taste. Nothing wrong with that!

How do I beat Ozzel?
The main thing to keep in mind against Ozzel is his ships can be in all kinds of places and when used well it is extraordinarily difficult to predict where his ships will be maneuvering to due to all the options they have. You need to do your best to maneuver thoughtfully.

"Okay, that's great, but what does 'thoughtfully' mean anyways?" I can hear you asking (and with good reason!). The easiest example I would give is relating to activated versus unactivated Ozzel ships. Already-activated ships you can be aggressive against - you already know where they ended the turn and there's no shenanigans coming from them until next turn. Already-activated Ozzel ships you can move your ships and squadrons against to line up attacks for next turn. Specifically what you're looking to do is "fork" his light ships - put more than one of them in serious danger next turn so he can only activate one of them and jump away (assuming the Ozzel player is first player) before you choose one of the remaining ships to destroy. Conversely, unactivated Ozzel ships are dangerous. Running in against them recklessly will often result in Ozzel's ships taking some pot shots and then they will jump away from trouble (or, if you really overextended, they'll stick around to keep punching you). That's rather frustrating. Against unactivated Ozzel ships, play it cagey and keep your speed lower so you don't over-commit (but keep a nav token on hand for when you need to speed up). Try to line up your long-range ships so they're covering the largest amount of "Ozzels ships will land somewhere in here" real estate so the Ozzel ships will need to end in at least some kind of range of you rather than avoiding your good arcs altogether (which is easier to do when you are closer).

Effectively what I'm saying above is that generally Ozzel fleets focused on crazy maneuvering love facing enemy fleets that go in too reckless or too timid as it lets the Ozzel fleet's speed control advantage control the tempo - you can punch and run from someone being too reckless and you can choose where and when to apply maximum pressure against someone being too timid. You need to identify where exactly the Ozzel fleet is vulnerable versus where it's still dangerous and move to exploit that so the Ozzel player isn't able to control too much of the game pace.


  1. I've never heard of speed 0, is this actually something every ship in the game can do?

    1. Yep, every ship can go down to speed 0 under any commander. It's there in the rules reference guide (page 11) under "speed" and the defense token restriction (i.e. you can't spend defense tokens against attacks when at speed 0) is in the defense token section. You can't start a ship at speed 0 but you can slow it down to speed 0.

      Normally it's not a great plan but it can be useful in the right circumstances and people often don't expect it because it's so often a bad plan that people just assume it's not something players would willingly do. Ozzel is particularly adept at suddenly going speed 0 due to his commander ability so I find I use it more often (still rarely) with him.