Friday, June 2, 2017

Hammerhead Hot Taek!

So we got a Hammerhead article today.  If you haven't read it yet, go HERE and do so.  But after reading it all, let's get my observations out quick and fast (spoiler alert: i am wordy and not fast)!

See, it's a HOT CAKE, which, the rhyme.  Shut up, it's funny.  My mom thinks I'm cool.
A picture of our options for running these!  So fancy!
By the horn of helm hammerhand.... wait, wrong series.
Going over the stats for these, we can see some important points.  First, it has VERY low shields (one more than a flotilla!) and moderate health (5 counts as moderate for the Rebellion, because we have several other 4's and one other 5).  It's got better health than a CR90 and an MC30, but that's not saying much.  It lacks a brace in its defense token suite, which is problematic.  But it has an Evade and a Redirect and a Contain! Shutting crits down! And with such low shields, oh are you going to need it.  The main benefit of these is twofold.  First, their cheap cost and limited upgrades, and the task forces that let you go full Voltron with your Hammerheads.
Pictured: probably the right number of hammerheads for a list.  And a good painting scheme for them all!
Like I said above, they have very low health.  Their engineering is NOT great (2? You need a dial and token to repair a damage.... hello Leia or the Redemption!)  With its comparatively low health and shields and 3 speed, here's how you're going to want to use it.  It's mostly a finisher ship, just like in Rogue One.  With the Boarding Engineers, you want damage already on the ship.  You don't know what's on those cards, and you don't get to know until you use the Engineers.  But think of all the Structural Damage, Comms Noise, Projector Misaligned, Depowered Armament.... so much fun!
Sorry kid, you gotta be at LEAST this mustachio'ed to be an Engineer with us.
Do you want Boarding Troopers? Well, if you're like me, you pre-ordered a Quasar expecting to get some useful cards out of it.  The short answer is.... "kinda but probably not?"
If you're intending to start the turn with your Hammerhead by exhausting a defense token, it's not a BAD plan (hit that ISD brace before you hit it with everything).  But their Engineering is better than their squadrons.  You CAN use the troopers to spend a flotilla's Scatter, hilariously.  Then they have 2 arcs of dice (you did double-arc the flotilla, didn't you?) that they have to choose between scattering one of them.  Again, though, the smarter plan is to just flip over 2 damage cards on them.  Structural Damage is nice, in that you get 2 free more damage on the ship, but you're going to likely want crits that affect the ship INTENSELY.  Some great combos:
  • Comm Noise (Your opponent may either reduce speed by 1 or choose a new command on your command dial, then flip face down) and Anything
  • Compartment Fire (You cannot ready your defense tokens) and Faulty Countermeasures (You cannot spend exhausted defense tokens)
  • Projector Misaligned (Your hull zone with the most remaining shields loses all of its shields, if multiple are tied, choose between the tied hull zones, then flip this card face down) and Capacitor Failure (If a hull zone has no remaining shields, you cannot recover shields in it, nor move shields to it, if that hull zone is defending, you cannot spend redirect tokens.)

POINT IS: you're going to need to have a few damage cards on there to get the best use out of it.  Hitting an ISD with 2 damage cards on it MIGHT give you something great.... or it might give you Injured Crew and Blinded Gunners.  The ISD doesn't NEED accuracies to kill you: you will explode very quickly from them.  It's a finisher, or you combine it with several other Hammerfriends.  Form that Voltron!

Let's talk upgrading it!
So you have 4 slots on each.  If you're going Boarding Engineers (and why wouldn't you want to?), you really only have 2 slots left.  Let's go through what we have on each and talk what you might want to put there.
  • Officer: Hondo goes on one, as he's an easy way to get the squadron token you need when you need it for the Boarding Engineers.  Lando in a VERY cornercase scenario where you're using the Hammerhead as a lifeboat/finishing ship for whatever you're smacking.  I really wouldn't though.  Really.  Chart Officer is not a bad inclusion, actually, as you're in a LOT of trouble if you hit an obstacle.
  • Offensive Retrofit: (without knowing Quad Battery Turrets) this is the Boarding Engineers slot.  Every other existing retrofit costs too much and these shouldn't be carriers.  "But with Leia I can-" Stop.  Make a REAL carrier better, stop corner-casing your way into a sorta capable carrier.  Go use the LMC80 Liberty if you want a mediocre corner-case carrier.
  • Weapons Team: "To Ordnance Experts (OE) or not to OE?  That is the question.  Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of blank black dice or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by rerolls end them."  If you External Racks, I can understand using them, as much of a pain as it is to add in more on the cost.  With Sato, yes for sure.  Or you put your boarding team here.  Can't get both!
  • Turbolaser Slot (Scout only): Slaved Turrets, TRCs, or Dual Turbolaser Turrets.  Spinal costs too much for a similar upgrade IMO but if you really need that extra one red die in the front and rear, go for it! (don't go for it).  TRCs because it's got an Evade, but you can't use it twice in 1 turn without blowing the Evade forever, so don't put Gunnery Team on them in that case (yeah, like you were going to....).  TRCs turn it into a decent artillery piece, supporting your ships until its ramming time! DTTs because sure, free reroll.  Slaved Turrets because it's an extra dice and you really only care about that one front arc, anyways.  If you concentrate fire with Commander Leia, that's 4 red dice with a free reroll on one of them.  Not bad for 47 points!  (Not amazing, mind you, but not bad!)
  • Ordnance Upgrade: External Racks.  With Sato, I can see the merit of APTs or ACMs, but every other commander just wants external racks.  With 1 black dice rolled per side, the 5 points you're paying for APTs is REALLY hard to justify, with the POSSIBLE exception of Dodonna.... but you better have OE on there to guarantee those crits trigger, and you better aggressively reroll for them.  It's A WAY of playing, yes, technically.  And Rapid Reload is still not good, pick a different upgrade.  You CAN use Flechette Torpedoes here (especially with OE), but I'm hesitant, myself, there.  I'd rather use their damage to hit a ship, personally, but I need experience with them first.
I'm gonna be EVERYWHERE!


With ALL these Hammerheads, though, you want cheap, and you're going to want several.  The cheapest you can get them, the better, so that way you can spam a wolfpack.  Think of them kinda like upgradeable squadrons.  Your attacks aren't initially amazing, so you want to make sure if you're going up against an ISD/VSD/whatever, you can hit it repeatedly and overload its tokens.  Less upgrades are more, really.  What's fun, though, with spamming them, is that if you can get the ramming damage lined up right, you can kill a ship with a fair amount of shields on it.  3 of them ramming Demolisher means that if you start out with the boarding engineers next turn, all you need is one Structural Damage in the stack to hit it and ram it to death.  Your strength isn't in your dice, but in the ramming damage you're going to do to your opponent.

Let's talk Task Forces and the Garel's Honor
We have 2 non-unique titles (IE task forces that you spam for all your Hammerfriends) that let you get your Voltron on, making my joke earlier actually sorta true.
How many can I use? All of them!
Task Force Antilles (after Raymus, the original captain of the Tantive IV) lets you push damage to another ship that has the title.  That ship then CAN'T repair with Engineering points this turn (Shields to Maximum and Projection Experts don't count for that, though! Heal me, Pelta!) These are very nice ways to keep your Hammerheads alive and suffering damage on shield zones that aren't under attack.  You're going to want a pack of attack dogs with these, all coming in and smashing something HARD, pushing damage around to other members of the task force.

Task Force Organa lets you reroll up to 2 dice.  If you don't need the reroll on one attack, you can just keep chaining them and moving things around.  Once a ship's title is tapped (i'm sorry, "exhausted." Thanks, Wizards of the Coast!), it can't attack ships this turn.  So make sure to exhaust the ones that either aren't going to attack this turn or have already gone.  The other benefit to Organa is that it lets you act like a fake Ordnance Experts for those ships attacking in black dice range.  You can cheap out on the OE and fly them with just External Racks instead (slash you can get the boarding engineers!).

With BOTH of these, you're going to want to spam several of them.  3-4 of each lets you get the titles on all those Hammerheads, letting you mitigate lots of damage and keep your ships alive for longer.  When you decide on a Task Force, all your ships should have the same.  No sense having 2 HH with Organa and 2 with Antilles, in case one blows up.  It's a matter of whether you want offense or defense.  Keep a pack of them together alive with Antilles, or keep a pack of them murderous with Organa.
Smashing Gozantis, Billy Corgan's new band

The Honor, on the other hand, is relatively straight-forwards and doesn't need friends.  Face-up ramming damage when YOU overlap (so not when they come back at you).  This is gonna go great with Dodonna, and there's so many fun crits out there that if you're running only one Hammerhead, it's a great use of the points.  4 is a bit steep for a title, but when you topdeck that Projector Misaligned on the ISD, it'll be worth it.  Then you can spend the Boarding Engineers next turn and flip it up, negating those pesky redirect tokens!

Let's talk our new officer friends, Hondo and Cham Syndulla 
Let's start with the easier one, Cham.
He looks like he heard one of my jokes!
He's a unique boarding team that acts as Slicer Tools for a STACK of dials.  I like him a lot, as he can ruin an ISD's/VSD's day, giving it all sorts of commands it doesn't necessarily want (squadrons when nothing's near! Concentrate Fire when it wants to turn instead!), and he lets you change them all.  He's also good against 2 Command ships.  2 turns of Demolisher pushing squadrons! 2 turns of Yavaris navigating! 2 turns of the Quasar concentrating fire!

Yes, he's countered by Skilled First Officer or (Dial Officers).  That also means your opponent needs to BRING those, preventing any other officers from being in that spot.  No Damage Control Officer, no Walex Blissex, no Wulff Yularen.  That's a REAL benefit for you.  I like the idea of Cham being part of the first Hammerhead in your wolf pack hitting the ISD in front of it, following up with several other hammerheads coming in after it to trigger boarding engineers and flopping damage after damage onto it.

The first point about Hondo, that I will thank Biggs for pointing out, is that he is cross-factional.  Everyone who's watched Rebels will realize this makes sense.
Hondo plays both sides, yes? No, Hondo only helps you! Hondo would NEVER LIE!
So he's 2 free tokens, and then 2 other tokens that your opponent gets to distribute.  If your opponent has only 1 ship, you get one of those tokens back.  Because you get to choose what tokens you get, you also get to choose what your opponent gets.  I can't say what you'll want each game, but I CAN predict that your opponent is going to be getting a Concentrate Fire token most of the time.  Squadrons lets you trigger boarding engineers, and engineering/navigate are always helpful.  2 free tokens for 2 points is super helpful, you just need to make sure that you get the best usage out of them that you can.  Hondo is a conniving little trickster that's going to help you out for a time.... just make sure it's the RIGHT time.

And let's talk Leia
"You certainly have a way with people... "
Leia lets you trigger a dial as if you had used a dial and token, BUT you then can't use other tokens.  So your engineering gets to be 1.5 its value (engineering 2 becomes 3, so you can heal a damage! 4 becomes 6, healing 2 damage or regenerating 3 shields!), you get to command an extra squadron, you get to add a dice and reroll a dial with concentrate fire, and you can jump your speed by 2 with a navigate.  Some notes!
  • You don't HAVE to use Leia.  You can, and she really makes the Hammerheads sing (jump from speed 1 to 3, engineer to repair a damage, concentrate fire with the dice fixings!) but if you badly need to use a navigate token this turn to change your way around when you have a Concentrate Fire dial lined up, it might make sense to NOT use her.
  • Pelta upgrades don't count as using her.  Entrapment Formation! isn't a command, but it DOES let you change your speed!
  • You want many ships with her.  You also really don't want a crazy amount of flotillas, you want ships that are good at potentially several different roles.  Nebulons are good with her, she wants a Pelta, TRCR90s aren't bad.  You CAN use an MC80, but man, they need upgrades to live and you're already running out of points.  Spam ships with little/cheap upgrades, and you'll do fine.
  • Alternatively, if you're feeling crazy and have too much money: Leia on a Home One MC80 with as many Hammerfriends as you can take.  Free Accuracy for everyone as you sweep along and smash through everything? Sounds great to me!
Quick and dirty thoughts about who's going to want to use this ship:
Mothma: Evade token and a little jerk running all over and then ramming something to death? Yup, sounds great.
Sato: turn those Rainbow dice into 3 black dice! Add in some Ordnance Experts and Expanded Racks and you're throwing 6 dice for 39 points! So cheap! So spammably mean! And then you ram him too!
Dodonna: Yes, please, Garel's Honor.  All the face-up rams!  What happens when they ram you back? MORE RAMAGE (it's like damage, but from ramming)!  Sadly not face-up, though, as they're overlapping you, not the other way around.  But heck, more damage is better, right?
Rieekan: It's still a ship, you can ram something and then die slash let it ram you later in the turn.  Fun times for you!  And you can keep passing damage to dead ships from the Task Forces!
Madine: With his 2 click ability, not only can you jump speeds and then ram something, you can also take a curveball style path that ends with you ramming them and ending in a weaker arc, so you can A) ram them next turn and B) potentially survive their return fire.  Madine WANTS to be going speed 3 with this to get the best use out of his ability.
Cracken: It goes speed 3, yup.
Crix Madine and General Cracken
Who probably doesn't?
Garm: They have one dial.  Not a great use of tokens, though you can start him out with the squadron token for the boarding action.  Garm loves him some Hondo, though.
Ackbar: Yes, you can fire out the side and spam them like crazy with him.  But at BEST, that's a blue dice and 3 red (if you concentrate fire), 4 if you put Enhanced Armament on your 41 point ship (why didnt you just take a CR90 instead).  Which, because of the way things work with ranges, you need to be in BLUE range to get it to work (if you didnt take Enhanced Armaments, of course).  Not ideal.  It CAN finish off a ship with Expanded Racks and the Ackbar dice out the side for 3 black and 2 red... which is the same as an MC30 that HAS to be in close range to get any of that.  Less than ideal in my opinion.
Ramming Speed!

Final Initial Thoughts
The Hammerhead doesn't do anything new, but it does let you have a VERY solid, cheap, spammable ship that can increase both your activations and let you finish off wounded ships of your opponents.  Start in the back, and gradually ramp your way up to smashing into a ship after you've thrown everything else you can at it.  The Hammerhead shouldn't be starting fights, but dang if it ain't gonna finish them.