Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Turbolaser Upgrades: Or "Knowing is Half the Battle!"

So I started writing the LMC80 article (it's in progress, and then I realized that we could ACTUALLY use a Turbolasers article, just so I can refer back to it a few more times.  It'll also give me some time to collect my thoughts on the LMC80, even though I've been running it for a few weeks now).  In any case, let's get learning!
Notice the lack of Green lasers here.  Clearly Imperial ships shouldn't be shooting at all! It's in the graphic!
Modifications: You actually CAN have just one
As of right NOW, Wave 6, there's 5 different Modification Turbolasers.  You can only have ONE modification on your ship at a time, so let's see if we want these or if we want something else on our ships.  I'll break down beneath each one the time(s) you actually do want these.

The first and most expensive modification, Enhanced Armament adds an extra Red dice on the sides.  This DOES affect Fire Lanes, and it also effects your ability to determine obstruction or not.  Back in the day, people would put these on CR90s, but then TRCs showed up.  We'll get to those below.

Why would you want this?
More dice, more damage, or creating ranges.  I've had good success putting one of these on a Torpedo MC30 with Ackbar.  What THAT does is give me attacks at Red Dice range and Blue Dice range for a relatively cheap cost.  It ONLY affects your side arcs, though, so anything that wants dice improving its front or all over doesn't want this.  You CAN put this on a LMC80 or a Nebulon, but the smarter plan is to improve a good arc, not "fix" a "poor" side arc of theirs.

Because this is 10 points, and because it's a modification, it's not often seen/just thrown onto a ship "because you can."  Many ships would rather have improvements on their damage or preventing full defense token usage.  However, this still sees work on MC30s, Assault Frigates, and Arquitens.  This is GREAT on Arquitens, especially, as they're so dependent on their side arcs, and with a concentrate fire command that's 5 red dice.  And having just lost 2 matches this last weekend against several of them working in tandem, it HURTS.  BADLY.  With the only ONE turbolaser slot on the H1MC80, you don't usually want these, even with Ackbar.  Ackbar's already adding in 2 extra red dice for you, the smarter plan is to mitigate your opponent's defense tokens (below) or reroll your red dice that don't deal damage 3/8 times instead of just adding in more dice.
I've never seen anything like it!
Spinal Armament is the front and rear version of Enhanced Armaments.  Works pretty similarly, just focuses on ships that want to be firing out the front.  Same points about Enhanced Armament adding to Fire Lanes works here, too, as does the point about improving a good arc versus "fixing" a "poor" one.

So who's taking it?
ISDs, VSD-Is, Nebulons, LMC80s, and Assault Frigate builds that are trying to double arc your ships. Not an Arquitens or MC30 though.  Again, improve your best arcs, don't fix the downsides. This section is short as it's basically just like Enhanced Armament above.  If you're trying to determine which one of these two you want (if you want them!), figure out how you want to be attacking your opponent's ships the best, then improve your better arc.  Weirdly, as Ackbar is already adding in more red dice, you don't want Enhanced Armaments (usually, like I said above).  However, most ships using their front arcs to fire at things DO want Spinal Armaments.  However, putting Spinals on there prevents you from most other Turbolaser upgrades.  Stuff that throws its damage out the front and can take Gunnery Teams appreciate Spinals.

Your plan for BOTH of these 2 upgrades is to just add more dice and use that to overwhelm your opponent.  As they're both red dice, having ways to reroll those dice if/when they miss are super helpful (Leading Shots, Concentrate Fire tokens), lest you be at the mercy of how well you roll.

The Ship with the Golden Gun
Slaved Turrets gives you an extra red die in your shot against a ship, but it also restricts you to only being able to attack from one of your hull zones.

So who's taking this then?
Ships that want an extra red dice ANYWHERE but that don't want to pay 9-10 points for Spinal or Enhanced Armament.  You can add it anywhere, which is nice, but with the fact that you only get one attack, it's a little hard to swallow, personally.  With a Concentrate Fire order, you can add in another die, but again: one attack.  I can see it on an Arquitens, or maybe a VSD, but with our next Turbolaser existing now, it's a bit of a harder sell.

Information! The most helpful way to add dice!
So DTT let's you add a Red dice in after your initial roll and then remove a dice. You can remove a blank Red die, a blank Black die, a Blue die that you didn't need, a die with less damage (if you roll the double hit).  It's an informed reroll, and that makes it very useful.

Who wants it?
Most ships can take advantage of it and are fine using it.  Arquitens are happy with it, I've debated CR90s, I love it on Nebulon B's, VSDs are happy with it for those long range attacks, it's a GREAT little upgrade.  You don't necessarily want it when you're rolling a LOT of Red dice, but when you have 2-3 Red Dice on a ship, it's not a bad choice.

I dislike Foghat, so the obvious joke isn't being used here. Slow your roll, instead
So our newest turbolaser upgrade, Quad Battery Turrets, is a modification.  And it adds blue dice! Technically! It adds a blue dice IF AND ONLY IF the ship you are firing on is currently faster than you are.  So if you're both at speed 1, no dice (a yuk yuk yuk).  But this is great for any ships that want to slowly move forward, letting your opponent come into range.  The fun thing about this is that because it adds a blue dice, you can trigger Leading Shots at long range. 

The OTHER fun thing about this is that it applies to all arcs.  I've had great fun throwing an extra blue dice out the front arc of my Nebulon B AND out the side into the same ship.  2 blues and a red is a pretty good side shot from a usually front focused Nebulon.  Heck, even the blue and red at long range is a good help at cracking your opponent's ship.

So who wants this new thing?
Much like every other turbolaser on this page, who wants this is going to be a small sampling of all the possible ships it CAN fit in.  As of right now (August 15, 2017), the ships that seem to want it are: Nebulon B's, VSD-IIs (but not really under Jerjerrod!), and HMC80s.  The ships that want this are those that are going to want to go slow.  By going slowly in, it forces your opponent to either go slowly as well (and let you keep tagging them with your base armament of dice when they can't return fire back as well as you) or go fast (and get hit with that extra blue dice and any concentrate fire dice that you add to your attack against them).

For ALL of these that you're driving, you need to take into account that this upgrade does NOT TRIGGER unless the ship you're firing on is going faster than you (so put Engine Techs on your HMC80 if you need to keep moving forwards...).  Keeping THAT in mind, sometimes if you really need the dice, you may have to slow down to speed 0 the turn before.  Try not to stay there too long.

Why do I, John, the Rebel player, say not really Jerjerrod? Well, Eric informs me that on VSDs, Jerry is usually pushing them at speed 2 and letting them get crazy good extra turning.  If they're going at speed 1, you can already get the extra click by navigating and not necessarily needing Jerry for it.  QBTs are great on a VSD in a Motti list that wants to slowly roll forwards at speed 1, hitting everything in its path and scoring points/winning through the objectives, but not so much on a VSD under Jerry that wants more turning to keep things in its front arcs.  Realizing as well that VSD-IIs 99.9 percent of the time have Disposable Capacitors stapled to them, no ship is going to rush forward any more and eat a bunch of damage they don't have to.  (I'm going to stay out of long range of you as much as possible, I can promise you THAT!)  Basically, you'll definitely be able to get the Disposable Capacitors shot off with Jerjerrod, but I really doubt you'll get the extra dice from the Quad Battery Turrets to add onto the ship if you're going speed 2 (because I will also be going speed 2 to try not to eat enough damage to kill me from your attack).  And with Jerry, you're going to want speed 2 to take advantage of his ability.

Special cases and Who Wants Them
Right now, there's one upgrade that goes in this section, and when you see it, you'll understand why.
How to CR90: volume 1
Turbolaser Reroute Circuits (TRCs) are great ways to improve Red dice that you throw.  BUT! You NEED to have Evades and a Turbolaser slot to use them.  You also only get to do it ONCE, as it's (as of a recent errata) an exhaust effect.  The ability to change a Red dice to a double hit (or a Crit if you're using Dodonna!) makes a few Red dice able to throw great damage repeatedly.

Who takes these?
CR90s love these, MC30s have a decent reason to use them, and Arquitens and any Star Destroyer (VSD or ISD) with Captain Needa in the Officer's slot could get use from these.  If you're putting these on a ship with only 1 Evade token (Arquitens, Nebulon B's, Assault Frigates), you either need to use the Evade for TRCs or use it to prevent damage from hitting you at long range (or use Tagge. I played a guy on Saturday who was using him with 3 Arquitens with TRCs.  It was MEAN.)  I'd suggest only giving up the token if you're dead (under Rieekan) or on your way out (there's an ISD in your front arc that you're about to ram and have a bad time with).  But most ships that want this are those with 2 Evades, so they can use this with one token and still be able to avoid damage with the other if necessary, especially if they're one of the last ships activating that turn.

Accurate Descriptions
If there's one thing that we love, it's having Accuracies to prevent Defense tokens from being used.  We have 2 of these of import, here, with different levels of value.
We have QUAD Turbolasers here! And we're Cannons, way cooler than Turrets!
QTC came out in Wave IV, and it made a blip on everyone's radar before disappearing.  This goes really well with the Close Range Intel Scan Objective, that.... no one actually plays.  This goes really great on another ship paired with Home One, or H9s, but... that's a lot of Accuracies you don't necessarily need.

The problem with it is that because it adds a dice, it has to be expensive.  But how often do you NEED a second accuracy icon? You need to generate one, and it shuts down flotillas if you can get one, but eesh, a lot of work for an extra accuracy.  What you CAN do with this on a LMC80 is roll your initial attack pool, use H9s to set one of the Red dice to accuracy (if you haven't rolled it already), add a dice from QTC, and then reroll everything with Leading Shots.  I mean, it's a THING, but that's 18 points (putting both QTC and H9s on your LMC80).  It IS however, strangely better for an LMC80 than Spinal Armaments in its same spot (more on this below).

I WANT to like this card, but the cost makes it very expensive.  If I bring Home One for another ship, that's a minimum of 113 points.  Combine that with whatever other ship I've got, it's just a very difficult thing to build around.  It MIGHT work on a Torpedo Frigate with these and maybe Ordnance Experts to get significant damage, but that's 192 points (without OE) to get a Combo that KINDA works but not really well. 

I've tried it on a Battle Cruiser LMC80 paired with H9s (below) and had some luck; shutting down 2 defense tokens can mean some GREAT damage rolls get through and hurt your opponent's ships.  Plus, if you roll decently well enough (not guaranteed) at long range (definitely not guaranteed) you can change 1 dice to an accuracy, add in the second with QTC, and lock down BOTH of a flotilla's defense tokens.  THAT is mighty fun, watching it explode at long range.  I will say, that after testing, the LMC80 (that it comes with on purchase) is really the only ship that wants it, so long as you pair it with H9s.  Combining the two of them together lets you either have QTC act as a Spinal Armament for 1 point more (you get an extra red dice added in when you have one that has an Accuracy face on it) or lets you shut down 2 defense tokens on a ship you're firing on. 2 Redirects on an Arquitens, or the Evade and Contain, or the brace and redirect on the Demolisher you're firing on, for example.

With Wave 6 out, though, it can see more use.  The Quasar having only 2 defense tokens and the Hammerhead having 3 (but one is a Contain!) means you can theoretically use these against flotillas and those ships, locking down the ability for those ships to keep themselves alive.  We'll have to see, but keep in mind that no matter what you do, you NEED an initial Red Accuracy before you can do anything with it.  With only 1 side out of 8 having that icon, you either need a way to guarantee it shows, or a way to manipulate the dice to get there.  Speaking of manipulating dice...
How you like me now? Yeah, pretty great that I've been here since Wave 1, huh?
H9 Turbolasers are great.  In Wave 1, no one thought they were, then flotillas showed up.  These can take a dice showing any damage symbol and change it to an Accuracy.  First, this doesn't work on Black dice.  They don't have an Accuracy icon.  Second, you have to have an icon showing.  Your blank Red dice gets NOTHING and can't be changed.  The interesting thing about this is that you can actually change a second dice to an accuracy if you already rolled one, just to lock down a second defense token.  This is useful against Demolisher or a Pelta or an Assault Frigate, but the main use of H9s is to GUARANTEE an accuracy for your ship.  Lock down that Brace, prevent the damage reduction from hurting their ship.  Or lock down the Contain against that Damage Control Officer.  It's a guaranteed accuracy, and that's super important.

Who wants these?
In our flotilla existent meta, everyone who can take them and get a benefit from them.  Torpedo MC30s especially, as they can change a Blue Dice (that ALWAYS has an Icon) to an accuracy.  Eric's build of an ISD-I with High Capacity Ion Turbines also really loves these, being able to (again) change a Blue dice to any side it wants there.  I've had good luck with these on LMC80s, and they're good on a VSD-II.

Ruining Defense Tokens
Currently, there are two ways of preventing Defense tokens from being used to their full potential.

The good!
XI7s are great.  Preventing your opponent from significantly using the redirect can result in dead ships FAST.  CR90s and Arquitens live through their Redirects, and Gladiators, Assault Frigates, Peltas, the new Quasar, etc etc.  Heck, it works great against ISDs and MC80s too.  It's a great card for fighting anything with a Redirect token, as it just lets you bore into their hull like a beam-drill laser.  It does nothing against flotillas, but it's so good against so many other ships that it's worth taking.  Combine it with 1 accuracy and you can shut down most ships ability to Brace the damage.  With no ability to Brace and only being able to Redirect 1 damage, that's a ship who's in for some bad times.

Who wants this?
Ships that can put out significant damage.  "You can only redirect 1 of the 3 coming at you" versus "You can only redirect 1 of the 7."  ISDs usually use and love these, but MC80s (either type), I've run them on an MC30 under Sato (and THAT's evil!) rolling a mess of black dice.  Brace, don't brace, you're not redirecting most of this.  H1MC80s love these, especially under Ackbar.  Just get all that damage coming in at one arc that really can't push it around.  Mmm, MMMM, TASTY!
The other!

And then we have Heavy Turbolaser Turrets.  As near as Eric and I can figure, FFG created this as a pseudo XI7s for Brace.  The PROBLEM is for this to be worth it, you need to be putting in enough damage that they can't just redirect their problems away.  Given THAT, and the fact that there are more ships with Redirects than Braces (and some without Braces at all!), the smarter option most of the time seems to be XI7s.  Combining this with the fact that you just can't tell WHAT you're going to roll, damage wise, means you don't actually know what it's going to do for you.  If you roll 3 damage total (front arc of an MC30), your opponent will likely be fine with that.  If you roll 7 or 8 from your side, they'll likely use the Brace alone.  That'll keep most ships alive, but it doesn't eliminate their other shields for your other shots.

And I think that's a large part of my issues with it.  Any large ship with a Brace Token would suffer way worse by having the Brace Accuracied away as opposed to having it told that he can only Brace one or not use other tokens.  For the exact same cost, you can put XI7s on there and rolling 1 Accuracy makes for sad times with the ability to neither Brace (that's where the Accuracy goes!) nor Redirect well.  In a meta with flotillas (so, all of them?) who want Accuracy generating tech, XI7s do better there, as opposed to HTTs.  I can't recommend them.

Who wants this?
Well, there has to be someone.  I'm not sure who.  If you're determined to make them work, put them on something that fires a squillion damage (ISDs, LMC80s, H1MC80s with Ackbar) and fire them at ships with a full complement of Defense Tokens (Brace, Redirect, and Evade - So Assault Frigates, Peltas).  The more they CAN'T use, the harder their choices become.  If they just brace it, they're taking a lot of damage and potentially wiping a side's shield.  If they only Evade and Redirect it, you've got several Defense Tokens exhausted and a mess of shields wiped out.  Follow it up with an attack into the same area next turn and you're gold.  If you're determined to make it work, that is.  Maybe put it on a Scout MC30 with Ackbar and Ordnance Experts? Or use TRCs like everyone else does for more guaranteed damage...

The Leftovers!
Here's where we put the upgrades that don't go in any of these other sections.
I've been around forever! I'm still super hard to make work!
So the cool thing about this is that if you can get this working, you get to do TWO face-up crits!  That's super great with Dodonna! Potentially pointless with anyone else! Right now, the ONLY place I can recommend this on is a LMC80 with XI7s or the Mon Karren title or SOMETHING.  To get this working, you NEED to find a way to both get through the shields of whatever you're shooting, and get through ENOUGH that you do two damage.  With Dodonna running that LMC80, this is good.  Otherwise I wouldn't bother (I'd barely bother WITH Dodonna running it...).  I'd also use that LMC80 as either a finisher or a followup or the second shot per turn.  If you're targeting Small based ships, the LMC80 can roll pretty well against them and finish them off, but against an ISD you're going to NEED to find a way to get those shields down first.  If you only get 1 damage through to the ship, this upgrade is effectively useless.  Once again, more beam drill to get the damage into the ships you need damaged.
Ignore Wreck It Ralph, always go turbo.
Hopefully this gives you a good idea about HOW to build your ships to get the most killing out of them. If you have any questions about any of these, please ask!


  1. Great article again! Keep up the good work, love reading about your insights.

  2. Very good and helpful article!

  3. Thanks a lot for that blog. Really awesome.

    Just a quick remark : i do not really agree on the uselessness of HTT. In my opinion they are really useful nowadays against big ships equipped with ECM : that way HTT (when combined with SW-7 Ion Batteries) makes Accuracies on your dices not necessary : provided you rolled for enough damage (at least 6, which is not difficult on an ISD or LMC80 equipped with SW-7 Ion Batteries) you will hit the hull almost every time at close range.

    What do you think ?

    1. You're welcome!

      Re: HTTs
      I agree with John that Heavy Turbolaser Turrets are generally sub-par. I agree with your basic argument that they're decent against large ships with Electronic Countermeasures (which was the argument for them back in wave 2), but with the proliferation of flotillas and other small ships without brace tokens (CR90s and MC30s in particular, but also the Arquitens) it does literally nothing against many enemy ships. Furthermore, building a ship to maximize the value of HTTs usually involves building away from accuracy-generating tech, which is potentially disastrous when nearly all fleets are bringing 1-2 flotillas.

      If ECM-equipped heavier ships are troublesome in your meta (which they can be, I don't dispute) I'd recommend Intel Officers as a more reliable counter to the brace-guaranteed big ships; they also have utility against flotillas and other smaller ships too.