Monday, May 1, 2017

LMC80: Battle Cruise Crazy (Just Be Glad It's Him, Not You)

Well, we're on our way into Wave IV now, as we pretend that Wave III and Wave IV are separate.... and that they demand the majesty of Roman Numerals.  Anyways, let's hit the second biggest Rebel ship, the LMC80!

The ANGRIEST lawn dart
Basic Stats
The fastest Large Base the Alliance has to offer!
What do they share?
  • 8 health
  • Command 3 - plan your turns out, else you're gonna run into some troubles (I speak from experience!)
  • Squadrons 2 - so you probably SHOULDN'T be using a dial to command squadrons with it (we'll get there with the titles!)
  • Engineering 4 - Able to heal a fair amount, with the non-Interdictor standard strongest
  • A very different navigational pattern than anything the Rebellion has seen before (we'll get here too)
  • Crazy dice in the front! Not so much in the sides or rear!
  • Crazy shields in the front (5!) Not so much in the sides or rear!
  • 2 Brace tokens and a Redirect
  • A Weapons Team slot (this is for Gunnery Team), a Support Team Slot, an Ion Cannons Slot, and 2 (TWO!) Turbolaser slots.
It seems like a very straightforward ship... in that you want it pointing STRAIGHT at the enemy, a yuk yuk yuk.  The ship does SO much damage with its front arc, it's like a bigger Nebulon with a slightly worse turning but better shields and health.  A large amount of complaints when this ship came out were that you were paying almost as much as a Star Destroyer for a worse Star Destroyer.  BUT! Don't think of this as a Star Destroyer.  It says Star Cruiser, anyways, yuk yuk.

Before we begin breaking them down, let's discuss what the LMC80 exists to do.  As a Battle Cruiser (and a Star Cruiser), it's there to smash little ships and run away from the larger ones.  It has enough firepower to smash its way through smaller ships, and it has the speed to run away from VSDs and ISDs.  If you try to go toe-to-toe with an ISD, you're gonna have a bad time.  If you team up on it with some friends, you'll do great! Sort of!

The LMC80 also lacks a Defensive Retrofit, so there will be no Reinforced Blast Doors, ECM, or Advanced Projectors for you (really you mainly want the RBD, but you can't get it).
I miss you. Why can't I get a Rebel Minister Tua? What do you mean, game balance?
One of the main points we'll talk about here are what turbolasers to put in your 2 slots there.  There's a lot of great combinations you can have, with Spinal Turbolasers, H9 Turbolasers, XI7s, Dual Turbolaser Turrets, and XX-9s all clamoring for spots.  We'll get here in the builds, but putting something in there is helpful.  I'm not going to say what to put in there (your meta may differ), but I can tell you what NOT to put in:

TRCs: No Evade, stop it
Slaved Turrets: You're putting Gunnery Team on here for a reason
Enhanced Armament: Go read the Turbolasers article for why
Heavy Turbolaser Turrets: For this to work, you're going to need to roll enough damage and no accuracies in order to make them WANT to use the Brace. You roll a bunch of Red and Blue, so you have a good chance of rolling them Accuracies.  XI7s do a similar job better and hurt CR90s, MC30s, and Arquittens while HTT does nothing.  It's your spaceship, and you can try to make anything you want work, but I wouldn't.

The main concern, no matter what you do with and how you build this ship, is Navigation.  That profile is..... different, but it's workable.  Much like a VSD, Navigation should be your default command most of the time.  But you're going to NEED Engineering later in the game.  To quote Eric from the VSD article:
Navigate constantly unless you have something better to do. Remember those speed chart problems I mentioned earlier? Maneuverability in particular is a huge problem for VSDs and by using Navigate commands to increase your yaw (and change speed when necessary) you are doubling your yaw. The significance of doubling your yaw cannot be overstated and it helps the VSD keep its front arc on targets and to some extent avoid trouble. I encourage you to think of it this way: if you use a Navigate command to keep a target in your front arc when you otherwise would not have been able to do so, you just used a better Concentrate Fire command - at full dice range, you get twice the dice from a front arc attack vs. a side arc attack and even at red dice range you get 1 more dice overall, the same as Concentrate Fire but much more likely to be in a situation where enemy attacks are directed at the front hull zone where you can redirect more effectively (to either of your 3 shield sides).
You're in a similar spot with much worse sides.  You're likely going to want to redirect FROM your sides to the front, because 5 shields versus 2.

Remember kids: always remove your goggles when welding

To help with the Navigation issues, Engine Techs does a LOT of work in keeping this thing turning right.  With Engine Techs, not only can you turn slightly better if needed, but you can be almost anywhere you need to be.  Going speed 2 and using a Navigate token (or command) can let you be speed 2, speed 1, effective speed 2 with an extra click (drop down to 1, use the Engine Tech move to turn a click again), speed 3/effective speed 3 (jump up or use the token to trigger Engine Techs), or speed 4 (jump up and then use Engine Techs). This puts you in a LOT of different spots that can threaten your opponent's ships.  I'm not saying Engine Techs is mandatory, but I have a hard time building this ship without it.  Combine that with the fact that it lets you ram smaller ships and put potentially 2 more damage into them (which can KILL a lot of things if you have 1 or 2 damage on them already!) and Engine Techs is an easy first step towards building these.  A minor note about that (from the comments below): the only way to adjust the speed 1 maneuver (currently) is through Jerrjerrod, so you can't turn 2 clicks with the Engine Techs move; you'll need to do it before (in that first or third maneuver joint, if you want a second turn there!)

The basic strategy for using this ship is to put Gunnery Teams on the front of it and then keep applying damage from the front to whatever you need it to.  Your front arc is SO HUGE and your potential damage from there is SO GREAT that you just badly want to fire out of it as many times as you can.  It also forces your opponent to be aware of it and change how he deploys and attacks you.  Your opponent's Raiders, CR90s, and flotillas do not want to lurk in its front arc for long.  What if you don't want Gunnery Team or think you want something else in there?  Let me go back to quoting Eric in the ISD article (thanks Eric, for writing half my article for me!)
The ISD-II is a big chunk of points and you need optimize the quality of its attacks. It's got a big juicy front arc that can often get one target in medium and another at long range (or if you're lucky, two in medium or closer). Gunnery Teams are unrivaled in terms of competition for the ISD-II's weapon team slot for this reason. You won't always get them to "work" every turn but you're effectively investing 7 points to substantially improve the odds that your 120+ point investment gets two attacks every turn, which is crucial, and it makes it foolish to "hide" several targets (including squadrons) in the same arc, figuring the ISD can really only meaningfully attack one of them.

Some players leave off the Gunnery Team in the hopes that their opponent will pick their Advanced Gunnery objective and allow the ISD the option of attacking twice from the front arc. This is not a good idea. Any plan that relies on you going second (perhaps your opponent would prefer to go second? You can't rely on being second all the time) and then picking the objective you really want them to pick as otherwise your ISD is worse than giving it a Gunnery Team is a bad plan.
So the best way to consider the Liberty is something halfway between an ISD and a VSD.  Navigate like the VSD wants, with the firepower of an ISD.  Given the points cost of everything, too, it should behave like something in the middle.

Moe, Larry, and Curly
The VSD-II costs 85 points, the ISD costs 110/120 points, and our LMC80 is 96/103, in the middle.  It should be better than a VSD (and it is! Faster speed, more base front arc dice!) while still not being as good as an ISD (and guess what? It isn't.  Not as good a squadron ability, not as many HP or shields).  So it's somewhere in the middle, which ALSO helps you figure out how to use it.  You wouldn't throw a VSD-II at an ISD on its lonesome, so don't do that with your LMC80 and you'll be fine!

There are 3, with various uses.

Appearing in Solo Command, because I will never not reference X-wing
Mon Karren is the title everyone was excited about when it came out, but then it fell into obscurity.  The issue I've seen with this is that when building it, people end up usually throwing this on and XI7s and H9s just to ensure that if you can lock down a Brace on an ISD, they can only redirect one and then they have to take the rest.  That's.... a plan, yes.  The PROBLEM with that, is that you're overdoing a lot of what makes it good, and you're not really using the ship for the way it was intended.  I've had success using Mon Karren, but you go cheap and you go HARD (potentially don't even PUT turbolasers on there!)  The title has a lot of great use, preventing Braces and Redirects at the same time, but don't overdo it in an effort to make sure something is extra dead.
Uhh, do whatever you want, I'm SUPER DEAD!
If you DO put Mon Karren on, I'd build it such that you're just adding dice and damage as much as you can.  Spinal Turbolasers, SW-7s potentially, etc.  You don't WANT Accuracies, as the title is trying to prevent smaller ships from using their other tokens that would keep them alive.  If Demolisher has to choose to redirect the massive damage or brace it down and only take a few to the hull, that's a GREAT spot to force it to go into.  It can't use all its tokens to stay unhurt, which is good for you.  And against big ships, they can either Brace or Redirect or Contain, but they can't get all of that in there!
The Endeavor to me is the default title I use on the Liberty.  The side and rear are so shield-light that I fear getting shot by Bombers.  And one face up crit can lead to some BAD times ahead for the Liberty, so I definitely like making sure I have a little more defense against bombers and other worries.  It doesn't DO a crazy amount for changing the game, but it's so simple and so helpful that I'll gladly pay for it.
So many crazy plans and builds, so little time
The actual Liberty title is our last member.  I've seen lots of builds where people take this on there and add Raymus and Flight Controllers and Fighter Coordination Team and, and, AND.  You're doing that thing I've mentioned before about taking something that isn't good and trying to make it good through sheer force of will.  Yes, you CAN push 4 squadrons a turn and keep them all good together, repeatedly, every turn, but you're taking the purpose of this ship and trying to make it what it's NOT.  The ability is great, but don't overdo it.  A SMARTER plan, in my mind (for a 3 point title) is to either feed it with Comms Net flotillas or use it once with Raymus Antilles/more with Asoka Tano.  Using it Garm Bel Iblis style where you do one thing with your dial and another thing or two with your tokens is a GREAT way to use this.  Overdoing it by dialing up squadrons every turn is going to result in you not having your front arc where you badly need it to be, so you're going to be shot and dead or out of the fight and useless, which is NOT what you want to do with a 100 point ship.

There's also my thought that if you really want to Raymus and use it all with him, do it once.  Maybe turn 2, try to get the jump on something? Don't turn this ship into your new greatest carrier, treat it as something that can provide solid squadron support while still firing out the front at where it needs to go.  If you REALLY want to have Raymus fire 4 B-wings on the way in to really smash a ship of some sort, you better have another ship that can fire them the rest of the game.

Battle Cruiser and Common Builds
It's like an angry slice of pie...
So the Battle Cruiser usually ends up getting run like a Christmas tree, with all the accoutrements and all of its slots filled! So pretty! So fancy! So many points your opponent is going to be shooting at! Some basic advice for your build:

Gunnery Teams are standard.  You're also throwing enough red dice that you're going to want Leading Shots as your Ion Cannon upgrade.  By adding in Leading Shots, using Spinal Turbolasers as one of your two Turbolaser upgrades is a decent idea.

If you have Madine, your Support Team slot should be Engine Techs.  If NOT him, I can see the wisdom of Nav Teams.

Upgrades I swear exist, volume....4? I think 4. Maybe 5? A special No-Prize to whoever identifies it right!
Yes, Nav Team.  Your movement profile is... not great, let's be honest (I can keep dancing around it!  Just like the MC80 isn't dancing itself.)  But the ability to turn slightly better when and where you need it with your Navigation tokens is worth exploring (I havne't YET, but I've got plans... I always have plans.)  With Leia coming out, I can easily see these actually getting more use so she can be Madine when she navigates.

At this point, all you have left to fill (if you want to!) is Officer, 2nd Turbolaser, and Title.  Because you're throwing Red Dice, and you have Leading Shots, I really like H9 Turbolasers on it.  If you roll well enough with your 5 red dice at long range, you can lock down a Scatter on a flotilla, making it extra sad and forced to take the damage.  You can then run into it for the last damage, and bam, dead flotilla.  For Officer, I've run Raymus with Madine, but that's a factor of trying to get as much Navigating as possible, haha.  I can see the wisdom of Major Derlin or Intel Officer (if you're INTENT on picking on something bigger than you.... or a flotilla).

Star Cruiser and Common Builds
I'm helping!
The Star Cruiser isn't seen as much, but it does get work done if you can get into Medium range.  Because you now have more blue dice than red, SW-7s are more along the line of what you want to be running.  Let those blues give them.... the blues.

It's like I can psychically sense what you're doing right now!
My point above about the Engine Techs or Nav Team stays, in my opinion.  You can run them without these, just make sure you're turning a LOT with them.

One basic build that I've seen that I like with the Star Cruiser is:
Mon Karren, Gunnery Team, SW7s.  That's it.  Cheap, easy, murderous.  Use it as an anvil that the rest of your fleet is going to be the hammer to force your opponent to impact against.

With 3 red dice, they won't always roll perfectly, so using Dual Turbolaser Turrets isn't a bad choice here.  XI7s can do well in the other slot, but you don't necessarily NEED anything in either.  You can build the Star Cruiser cheap, and that's helpful, ESPECIALLY for a Large ship.

The basic starting point for building the ship: Star Cruisers want SW7s, Battle Cruisers want Leading Shots.  Both want Gunnery Team and a way to turn better/more.  Build from there, really.

Turn around, every now and then I need you turning two clicks now, turn around, BRIGHT EYES
Garm bel Iblis: A Command 3 ship? That wants more tokens for the Liberty title to trigger? Yes please.

Madine: It comes with him, he can get it to turn on a dime, and it is CRAZY good with him.  Expect the article describing HIM next.

Sato: In an earlier article, it was pointed out to me that Sato can take a Star Cruiser and turn 2 of those red dice to blue ones, guaranteeing 6 damage from the front each shot.  That sounds super fun with the Mon Karren...

Dodonna and Rieekan don't have special synergies, but don't have reasons NOT to take it.  They both can build decent lists with it.

So who doesn't want it?
Cracken and Mothma: Not the right size, no Evades, respectively
Ackbar: I wouldn't.  4 red dice out the side is good, but you're then not firing out the front.  And you can't do both.

What do you mean, a fish ship I don't want? This is my disappointed face!
Final Thoughts
The MC80 isn't commonly seen as it's often seen as a weird combination big ship that can move like a small one.  But if your meta has an overabundance of Multiple Small Units showing up, trying to out activate you, in the words of Depeche Mode: Reach out and touch faith them.
Pull off using the LMC80 like Johnny Depeche here is pulling off that hat!