Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Imperial ship review: Gozanti Cruisers

Waves 3 and 4 effectively came out at the same time, making them less of two separate waves, but we're obligated by FFG release terminology to treat them sequentially. Thus let's continue past wave 2 and into wave 3 with the Imperial Gozanti Cruisers!

The U-Haul of the Empire, now with mom's attic for extra overhead storage space!
So... it's not a triangle?
The only real difference between the two Gozanti variants is the Assault Carriers upgrade their flak to a blue die and their front arc to a red die compared to the basic Gozanti-Class Cruisers. We'll talk a bit more about them later, but most advice that can go for one can apply to another. The cheaper Gozanti-Class Cruisers are widely considered the "default" Gozanti, so I'll mostly be referencing them when I use the term "Gozanti."

Flotillas are largely defined around their unique upgrades, which I've posted about today as a companion article. Please give them a look-over!

The defining traits of the Gozanti, just like the Rebel GR75, are they are extremely cheap, they're very cost-effective at commanding squadrons (although only a base value of 2), and they come with a scatter defense token, which is a big part of keeping them alive - their 1 shield per hull zone and 3 hull points certainly aren't going to go too far in doing so!

Basic usage recommendations
As a flotilla, the Gozanti has a lot of small jobs it can do. These include but are not strictly limited to:
  • Providing an extra activation for cheap
  • Assisting the fleet with its fleet support upgrade
  • Commanding a small number of squadrons at a very affordable price at a moment's notice due to Command 1
  • Assisting friendly squadrons against enemy squadrons with its flak
  • Assisting friendly ships against enemy ships with its anti-ship attacks
  • Blocking in ships when absolutely necessary by getting in the way
For such a low cost, a Gozanti can do a lot of things! The trick with the Gozanti compared to its cheaper Rebel counterpart, the GR75, is that you're paying extra points for anti-ship dice. If you don't use them, you effectively just overpaid for a GR75 by 5 points. If you do use them, you're risking your Gozanti's life by getting into medium range, so be careful to only use the Gozanti as a combat vessel when it's actually safe to do so. I will say that it usually isn't too difficult to catch an approaching enemy with a double-arc and a concentrate fire command, 2 blue dice out of one arc and one from the other isn't going to astound anyone but it is a cost-effective way to get a few damage to stick to an enemy ship before you hopefully beat feet and get your Gozanti out of harm's way. I've finished off nearly-dead enemy ships with a Gozanti before and it's uniquely satisfying 😁.

Don't neglect the Gozanti's flak, either. When circling a dogfight you can assist your fighters with a black die, which 75% of the time will deal one damage to an enemy squadron. Your rear arc can't attack ships but it can still flak squadrons! You're not going to be doing the insane flak damage a Raider could do, but for a low cost you can still get a lot of value from Gozanti flak.

Gozantis when exposed to too much fire can suddenly disappear, so be careful with them. In general flotillas survive by using their defense tokens against long-range attacks to avoid the worst of it; small attacks can be shrugged off by the evade token and larger attacks can be neutralized by the scatter. This starts getting iffier once you get to medium range for a few reasons - first of all, your evade becomes less effective. Secondly, your opponent will often be rolling more total dice and blue dice are available. Blue dice are the devil when you are a flotilla, as they have the highest odds of rolling an accuracy result which can shut down your scatter plans pretty quickly. All it takes to wipe a healthy flotilla off the board is 4 damage post-evade + an accuracy to lock down the scatter, which heavier combat ships don't have a hard time producing. Other things to watch out for would be accuracy-guaranteeing effects (like H9 Turbolasers or the HMC80 Home One title), Intel Officers (which can snipe your scatter for good), and being in overlapping fields of fire. Your Gozanti will likely survive at long range against 2 CR90As, but they will burn its tokens out, get some damage to stick to it, and it will be in a bad place next turn.

A final thing to point out about your fragile Gozantis: be careful of getting overlapped. Because Gozantis are flotillas, they only inflict damage to overlapping/overlapped flotillas but otherwise they are the only thing taking a face-down damage card when a ship-on-ship overlap happens. I personally enjoy ramming flotillas with something like a Raider, then the flotilla finds it can't get away from the Raider and overlaps it again and then it will get finished off next turn by the next instance of overlapping, all at no damage cost to the ramming ship. This is a great way to get around the scatter token as well, so be careful of getting rammed!

Okay so all that sounds pretty bad. The good news is with the right flying technique it's not too tough to keep your Gozantis safe. First and foremost, I recommend keeping your Gozantis at long range (or even better, not in range at all) of enemy ships. I also recommend keeping your Gozantis in the same arcs that enemy ships want to use to attack your "real" ships - they'll often prioritize putting damage into your more expensive ships both because those ships are more threatening as well as because the threat of the scatter token remaining free makes them not want to potentially waste an attack on the Gozanti. If the Gozanti is the only target in an arc, though, there's no harm in throwing an attack its way just to see if it sticks.

I've found two basic deployment strategies tend to work well:
The first is deploying your Gozantis facing towards the enemy with your other ships but at a lower speed (for example, if your main combat ships are starting at speed 2, set your Gozantis at speed 1) and/or further back towards your table edge (so that even when going the same speed they're behind the front lines if only by about one small ship length). This allows your combat ships to present a more immediate threat and sometimes provide obstruction for your Gozantis. Your Gozantis can still support your combat ships more immediately and they can more consistently get in flak and/or anti-ship attacks by being closer to the fight. If it turns out that the local part of the battle is a bust, they can usually book it with a navigate command to turn out of the fight into the flanks, but sometimes it's simply too late. This first method is more dangerous for Gozantis but provides them more opportunities to directly contribute to the fight with flak and anti-ship attacks.

The second is deploying your Gozantis on the flanks or in the rear of your fleet facing the flanks. The idea is your Gozantis will naturally circle on the outsides of the conflict and thus avoid too much attention. You generally need some means of keeping the Gozantis relevant through additional points expenditures (like Comms Net, Boosted Comms, or a Relay squadron or two) or else they will only contribute to the game by being an empty activation, but this method keeps them safest.

You can also go for something of a compromise option and see how the game plays out in the first two turns before deciding exactly where those Gozantis want to be:

The last basic recommendation I'd like to cover is inside turning. Gozantis have their clicks earlier in their nav chart, which allows them to consistently perform inside turns while at speeds 2 and particularly 3. This can be extremely useful for getting them to where you want them to go without having to mess around with nav commands too frequently. With a nav dial, however, adding an extra yaw to the first joint at speed 3 can result in a tight inside turn to get out of trouble.
Not today, Satan!
So there's a Suppressor Refit Interdictor and a Suppressor title Gozanti and they both like to mess with people? Confusing!
Suppressor is a fun little annoyance Gozanti title that naturally pairs well with Slicer Tools, as that Gozanti is going to be diving into trouble to harass enemy ships so you may as well double down on its harassment role. It's extra fun with an Avenger ISD in your fleet as well. Just remember that it triggers at the end of each enemy ship activation, provided they are in range. It's easy to forget about, so keep an eagle eye on Suppressor to make sure you're getting maximum harassment value from the title at all times. Suppressor is particularly good at harassing enemy flotillas by exhausting their scatter defense tokens, but it's also happy to exhaust any other one-of tokens, usually braces, on other ships.

Slicer Tools Suppressor Gozantis have a tendency to get a lot more attention than regular Gozantis and thus they tend to become ex-Gozantis rather quickly. You need to balance your desire to impact the game early against your desire to keep Suppressor alive and find the most effective method of utilizing it.

I love his little red Lucha mask.
Vector is pretty straightforward. The important thing to always remember is it doesn't work on Heavy squadrons and you can't go above speed 5 (as there is no speed 6). You can achieve some silliness with it by using it to jump Firesprays up to speed 4 to pounce on a ship that thought it was safe, but it's generally used to make speed 4 TIEs (Advanced, regular Fighters, Phantoms) and Jumpmasters move at speed 5 or to give a bit of a boost to Rogues when they need it (like Boba Fett or Bossk, for example). I'm not a huge fan of the title but for 2 points it's not a big deal either way. You will need to choose whether you're pairing it with Expanded Hangar Bays to cover more squadrons "fire and forget" style or Boosted Comms so you can continue to command those squadrons you sent flying far away again in the future.

We've already been talking about the Gozanti-Class Cruisers above, so there's not much else to say specifically about it. Let's get right to the builds considerations:

Upgrades and other considerations

Fleet Support
Unless you have a really good reason, give your Gozantis Fleet Support upgrades. Worst case the 2 point investment on Comms Nets is pretty solid for most fleets.

Boosted Comms
For Bomber Command Center Gozantis, Boosted Comms can help them stay relevant for bossing around bomber squadrons while still being in BCC buff range and hopefully outside of effective enemy range. It's not strictly required, but it helps.

Lambda shuttles
Because each Lambda has Relay 2, they work very well with Gozantis, as they are Squadrons 2. Each Gozanti can funnel its 2 squadron commands through the one Lambda, but be careful of over-relying on the Lambda - a savvy opponent will prioritize destroying it if you give them the opportunity.

A note about upgrades in general
Be careful to not go too crazy with upgrading Gozantis or any flotilla, really. It's kind of fun to go a little crazy with, say, Admiral Chiraneau and Expanded Hangar Bays and Bomber Command Center on a single Gozanti but you're spending "real ship" points on a fragile flotilla. In general I like to keep them as cheap as possible and spend the big upgrade points on larger more combat-specialized ships.

Cheap and cheerful
Comms Net
This is my default Gozanti and it's a steal at 25 points. It commands squadrons, it adds some dice here and there, it passes tokens to other ships, it's swell.

Bomber buddy
Bomber Command Center + Boosted Comms
This one is getting more expensive at 35 points, but it's pure bomber goodness. One or two of these in addition to some other squadron command muscle and your bomber cloud is ready to rock. Just do your best to keep them safe while covering as many bombers as possible. These guys love Rhymer for keeping the bomber cloud more compact and manageable.

Minister Tua, Electronic Countermeasures, Slicer Tools, Suppressor title
The trollface Gozanti is not cheap (43 points) but boy is it ever annoying. With Minister Tua around to equip Electronic Countermeasures, you can make sure your scatter defense token is usable when normally it would have been locked down by an accuracy. ISD-II shot you for 8 damage and locked down the scatter? Nah, ECM that scatter and get away consequence-free all while abusing Slicer Tools and the Suppressor title. Trollface can still bite off more than it can chew, mind you, but with the ECMs, it takes a concentrated effort by serious combat ships that would really like to be doing something else.

Optionally you can equip Tractor Beams if you must use every upgrade slot for maximum annoyance value. The Tractor Beams will still mess with small-based ships and can occasionally prove useful. I wouldn't recommend it, but if you want to be as annoying as possible, you'll want the Tractor Beams.

The Gozanti-Class Assault Carriers are very similar to their cheaper cousins and have similar usage recommendations. Due to their longer-ranged flak and anti-ship front arc, they like being placed in your ship battle line and contribute to combat more frequently than regular Gozantis do.

Assault Carrier Gozantis are effectively "deluxe" Gozantis that invest 5 points towards a bit more combat prowess. They're happy to receive concentrate fire commands to fling 2 red dice out of their front arc, which when you think about it for 28 points is really not that bad (just watch out for obstructed targets, which they cannot attack in the first place as their initial red die is removed and then the attack is canceled). Assault Carrier Gozantis have more synergy with the Most Wanted and Opening Salvo red objectives because of their front red die attack, and it can get very silly with a concentrate fire dial thrown in (1 red die + 2 black dice from Opening Salvo + 1 more black die from concentrate fire).

The blue flak dice doesn't do damage with as much regularity as the black flak dice (50% versus 75%) but the extra range can help, so I consider them about even in that regard.

Basically if you have a few points to spare and you want to add a bit more long-ranged oomph to your battle line, I'd consider upgrading a regular Gozanti to an Assault Carrier Gozanti. This is most appealing with gunline fleets and fleets where you've got 3+ Gozantis already and would like to add a bit more anti-ship muscle. The dice profile doesn't really jive well with the in-your-face Slicer Tools style Gozanti, but the other Gozanti builds from above work just fine with an Assault Carrier Gozanti and so I'll be skipping the upgrades and builds section, as those detailed above are just as applicable here.

Commanders that synergize with Gozantis

First things first, it should be noted that FFG's most recent errata specified that commanders cannot be put onto a flotilla, so no more using Gozantis as lifeboats! Put your commander on an angry triangle like a real space fascist! On to the rest of the commander discussion...

Basically everybody
Not trying to be clever here, just noting that every fleet enjoys another cheap helpful activation. I'll be referencing specific commanders below that particularly like Gozantis but most fleets will take one or two Gozantis happily.

Grand Moff Tarkin
Gozantis are the cheapest "shallow bucket" ship for Tarkin's token-spamming effect and Assault Carrier Gozantis are happy to receive concentrate fire tokens to spend with their concentrate fire dials for a pretty reliable little 2-dice barrage. Carrier Gozantis are happy for squadron tokens to command 3 squadrons a turn through Boosted Comms or 4 squadrons a turn with Expanded Hangar Bays. Tarkin is one of the rare instances where I don't feel like you necessarily need a fleet support upgrade on all your Gozantis - normally I default to Comms Nets, but Tarkin's token-producing effect is usually plenty of tokens for most fleets.

Admiral Motti
An extra hull point on a Gozanti can make a surprising amount of difference, especially when it comes to the chances of ramming a Gozanti to death. Don't expect miracles, mind you, but Motti's 4 hull Gozantis can often take one more attack from all but the strongest opponents before finally dropping. Motti is also a big fan of Comms Net Gozantis passing out command tokens to his heavier ships or Bomber Command Center Gozantis supporting his carrier fleet.

Admiral Ozzel
Ozzel can allow a speed 1 "just chilling out not hurting anyone" Gozanti to go immediately up to a speed 3 "oh God, run away!" Gozanti, which is extremely helpful for keeping them alive. Ozzel's fleet also appreciates the easy access to navigate tokens through Comms Nets on occasion.

Admiral Sloane
Sloane has a big investment in the squadron mini-game and Gozantis are happy to be understudies to a fleet's heavy-lifting carrier like an ISD or Quasar.

General Tagge
Tagge helps recover those scatter tokens, provided you can get your Gozantis to survive until turn 5 (they're not often taking serious fire on turn 2 to use Tagge on turn 3). The "trollface" Gozanti build above is particularly frustrating when paired with Tagge to recover the scatter token to just keep on being a jerk.

1 comment:

  1. Aaah, so that's why people like to put commanders on these things. I'm still convinced though it's better to put commanders on the biggest baddest ship in your fleet :P