Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Imperial officers

Line up you mongrels, it's time for an Imperial officer inspection! Shine those boots, polish your rank badge, suck in that gut, and stand up straight!

Jerjerrod is particularly unimpressed with you, Mutton Chops McGee!
...let me guess, the TIE pilots behind me aren't saluting, they're just bullshitting amongst themselves. *sigh*
Admiral Chiraneau's effect is fairly straightforward. The main thing to keep in mind is his speed "overwrite" happens prior to any other additions, so if Admiral Chiraneau is on a Gozanti with the Vector title or a VSD with the Corrupter title, squadrons that are eligible for the speed boost would move as though they were speed 3.

Admiral Chiraneau hasn't been seen much since Imperials got access to the Jumpmaster for Intel in wave two. The main problem is he's an extremely expensive officer at 10 points and his benefit is generally inferior to Intel, as Intel when used well allows for squadrons to move at their full speed and to also ignore Inteled enemy squadrons when they're trying to attack ships; all Chiraneau does is allows you to move at a slower speed while engaged and doesn't turn enemy squadrons Heavy to help you bomb ships. He also consumes your officer slot and is best used with high-Squadron value ships to apply his benefit to as many squadrons as possible - unfortunately for him, higher-Squadron value ships like ISDs and VSDs are usually used as mixed-role battleship/carriers and the officer slot is hotly contested; the ships themselves also won't usually be able to mash the squadron command button as consistently as Chiraneau might like without sacrificing some of their anti-ship potency.

On a Quasar, however, Chiraneau is more appealing: he's on a dedicated carrier where his benefit can be applied to a large number of squadrons more affordably. He is still competing with Intel, though, and so the inevitable question is "when should I use Chiraneau, then?" I don't recommend using Chiraneau and a source of Intel together as it's a lot of points dedicated to a similar ability. Chiraneau could definitely be a source of "fake Intel" backup for when/if the Jumpmaster is destroyed or your opponent is trying to overwhelm your ability to provide Intel, but it's a lot of points and I generally feel like your points could be better invested into protecting your source of Intel (with a TIE Advanced, for example) or bringing another Jumpmaster if you have the extra squadron points; if you're maxed out on squadron points and don't have a lot of Intel backup in your large fighter coverage group, then maybe Chiraneau. Maybe.

Overall, I feel like Chiraneau is a much better fit with medium fighter coverage groups or large fighter coverage groups that focus on mixed-role squadrons like TIE Defenders. In that case, he's used instead of Intel - those types of squadron configurations don't intend to get bomber damage into enemy ships in the early game (unless it's offered up early due to an opponent mistake) - they intend to win the squadron mini-game and then use surviving squadron assets to put bomber damage into enemy ships later on. With Chiraneau helping out there, you get a fighter benefit and a bomber benefit that better synergizes with that type of squadron play: your squadrons used as fighters appreciate being able to focus their attacks on the best targets and/or being able to attack and then pull out of trouble; your squadrons used as bombers appreciate being able to slip away from a situation other squadrons are handling in order to get some attacks into a ship whose fighter coverage is tied up elsewhere. With multi-role squadrons, you can circumstantially use your squadrons either way, but some specialists don't mind being added in to the mix to benefit from Chiraneau (of special note is Mauler Mithel who loves the easy "jumping around" that's not tied to a fragile Intel squadron).

In short, Intel is better with a more conventional large bomber wing that doesn't mind including a support apparatus for Intel (like Escort squadrons) and is trying to deliver bombers to enemy ships as soon as possible. Chiraneau on a dedicated carrier is superior when your squadron group doesn't have any desire to spend any points on a bomber support apparatus and intends to win the squadron mini-game directly by destroying enemy squadrons and then focusing on ships later.

Montferrat trying out his best "you can't X if you don't Y" meme pose.
Admiral Montferrat requires a little bit of clarification:
  • His effect only applies against ship attacks, not squadrons.
  • It only applies when his ship is set to speed 3 or 4.
  • Obstruction is binary - either you're obstructed or you're not. You can't be double- or triple-obstructed.
  • Admiral Montferrat only gets discarded if the ship he is equipped to overlaps another ship during its movement. If another ship overlaps his ship, he's fine. He just gets really embarrassed when his crew can't steer very well.
Admiral Montferrat is one of the big contenders for Demolisher's officer slot. He is also more rarely seen on Gozantis (when Minister Tua is elsewhere) or Raiders. Basically any ship that wants to be speed 3+ when it's making its attack run or getaway can benefit from Montferrat, particularly if it has an evade defense token. Essentially, the obstructed benefit is best when it removes a larger proportion of the dice from the pool. Long range is thus the best place to be when you're obstructed against everything and adding in an evade token makes you even better suited to dodge damage coming your way. That's not to say obstruction at other ranges is bad - it's not: Montferrat can make situations where you're double arced less problematic as well. It's just the effect is strongest against longer-ranged attacks when you get an evade token or two to throw at your problems.

Montferrat is a bit picky, though, so be sure to measure your desire to have his effect active (by being speed 3 or 4) versus your maneuvering needs versus your desire to avoid overlapping enemy ships to keep Montferrat from jumping out the airlock. It's a bit of a balancing act to be sure, but when used well, Montferrat can prolong his ship's life by a solid turn or two, and that can make a big difference.

I'm gonna clench my fist like daddy when he gets angry! Grr!
Admiral Titus has an effect that triggers just the once at the very start of the first round. He can change (up or down!) an enemy ship's speed by 1, with no restriction against lowering it to 0. Then he's done. It should be noted that because this happens at the start of the first round, the first Command Phase hasn't happened yet so your opponent will usually counter Titus' shenanigans by committing to a first-round navigate command on the ship Titus targeted. Thus effectively Titus reads "choose an enemy ship that has to navigate first round and doesn't get to save a token like it would prefer to." Is that worth 2 points? Sure, sometimes. It largely depends on your fleet and if you consider that inconvenience to be worth 2 points.

Because Titus doesn't have a persistent effect, he's often best placed on ships that don't really care about their officer slot. Gozantis in particular are a great place to put Titus for this reason.

If I see anyone here with a name tag, they're getting a broadside from the old sideburns, all right!
Agent Kallus is very straightforward: he hates unique squadrons and when his ship attacks them, you can add a die of any color. Two things bear special mentioning about that:
  1. His ability triggers against any unique squadron, even the Corellian Conflict unique squadrons that don't have defense tokens (like Rogue Squadron or Gold Squadron or the like) .
  2. Because his ability is an add effect, it happens after you roll your initial attack roll. This allows you to see how your regular flak worked out and then add a die of any color afterwards. This comes into play particularly against scatter aces - if your original flak roll had an accuracy, it's probably best to add a black die for higher damage. If not, then it's probably best to add a blue to hope for an accuracy icon.
If you find your meta has enough unique squadrons (this is particularly true if Rieekan aces are a thing near you), then Agent Kallus can help. The main consideration is where exactly to put him. For most purposes I prefer a Raider (either chassis) or Quasar-II, as the Quasar-II provides a long-ranged but inconsistent red die for its flak, which Kallus synergizes well with as it allows him to potentially reach out and slap more unique squadrons and it benefits the Quasar as Kallus can add a much more reliable die color to the unreliable red die.

"Vader said asteroids didn't concern him, but they very much concern me."
Captain Needa was the very first upgrade that let you mess around with the defense tokens you were supposed to have. The main thing to keep in mind about his ability is that the substitution is resolved at the start of the first round, so you don't need to commit to what's getting swapped out until your fleet is deployed. Normally it's pretty obvious how you intend to use Needa, but in some circumstances perhaps one token is a better drop than the other based on your ship's deployment relative to the enemy fleet so you have that option. You can even choose to not use Needa's ability at all in the rare event it's not smart to change your defense tokens at all!

In general, you'll find Captain Needa on ships where he can replace a contain token with an evade token (like an ISD, Arquitens, or Interdictor), given that while contain is an okay defense token to have, it is generally the worst defense token and evade is overall superior. This is especially true in metas where long ranged skirmishers like CR90As are keen on picking apart heavier more expensive ships from downtown; the evade can remove their best die, saving you some damage over time. With the Arquitens in particular, going from one to two evade tokens can also make Turbolaser Reroute Circuits a lot more appealing.

The only circumstance in which I've heard of Needa being used on a ship to not "upgrade" a contain to an evade is on VSDs, where Needa changes the defense token suite from brace + 2 redirects to brace + redirect + evade, making the VSD defensively more like an Assault Frigate. Given it's not uncommon for a VSD to spend most of its time at long range of ships who would really rather not get much closer, that's not a bad switch at all for only 2 points.

Commandant Aresko knows how to make the intimidating clenched first pose. Take note, Titus.
Commandant Aresko is in most circumstances an inferior Wulff Yularen, but let's break down how he works. When another (not his ship) friendly (not an enemy) ship at distance 1-3 (so some portion of its base must be within distance 3) reveals a command, you may exhaust Aresko to gain a command token matching that command. The problems with Aresko are obvious and underlined in the preceding explanation - he's reliant on nearby friendly ships executing commands he wants to gain matching tokens of and without that happening, he's not doing much. Given that Wulff allows you to keep regurgitating the same command token over and over again for the same cost and much less hassle, he's nearly always superior to Aresko.

Nearly always, however, does not mean always always. Aresko can be superior to Wulff when he's used on an Interdictor cruiser with the Interdictor title; the title allows you to use Aresko twice in one turn when he's set up appropriately. I would still counsel skepticism in that regard as Aresko's still trickier to set up and less reliable overall but he can be quite effective when paired with the Interdictor title in the right circumstances.

She directs you to better understand poliosis before making fun of her hair streak, thank you.
Director Isard's effect only requires clarification in that you can look at the command dials of any one enemy ship anywhere on the board (no range restriction) and you need to keep those command dials in their original order.

Director Isard has a neat effect but unfortunately her utility is limited without a good combination card to really utilize the information you gain. Presently, you could make an argument for using her in a fleet with a Slicer Tools Gozanti so the Gozanti has a better idea as to whether a particular ship is a high- or low-priority hacking target, but it's a bit of a stretch. If and when the Imperials get access to some kind of effect that allows you to punish an enemy ship when you correctly guess its top command, Director Isard will finally have a home. Until then, I have a hard time recommending her.

Where is Spain? Why does everyone ask if I'm from there? It's so unexpected!
The Grand Inquisitor requires a little clarification before we go any further:
  • The line "when an enemy ship... changes its speed" is a little more nebulous than I'd like. It can be construed to mean "its speed is changed from any effect," which would allow you to trigger the Grand Inquisitor when using a Tractor Beam or some such, but consensus seems to be that it refers to the ship itself ("changes its speed," being "the ship('s owner) choosing to change its speed") making the decision and not from effects being forced on it. I'd appreciate an FAQ on this sooner or later, though.
    • That said, you can use speed-down effects to encourage the owner of the ship to speed it back up to trigger the Grand Inquisitor, though!
  • Remember that you can't premeasure with the maneuver tool until your ship gets to its determine course phase, so when the Grand Inquisitor triggers you don't get the benefit of seeing how you like a different speed and the options it gives you like you would with a navigate dial and/or token.
The Grand Inquisitor fills a bit of an odd niche by allowing you to quasi-navigate during an opponent's turn but only if a nearby enemy ship changes its speed as well. Because of his restrictions, if you're looking to use the Grand Inquisitor as an on-demand navigate token, I'd recommend looking to Wulff Yularen for an extra 3 points or use a Veteran Captain or Skilled First Officer if you only anticipate a one-time emergency need. You really don't want to be relying on the Grand Inquisitor only to find your opponent has denied you the triggering event you need for him to work.

Okay, so when would you want to use the Grand Inquisitor over a more reliable officer that can help you change your speed? A few situations come to mind:
  • On ISDs or (to a lesser extent) VSDs using Quad Battery Turrets, the Grand Inquisitor can be quite helpful as he allows you to slow down during your opponent's turn, prior to your attack with the Quad Battery Turrets. Given that heavier enemy ships are often slowing down to avoid the extra blue die when the dice start flying and lighter enemy ships are often speeding up to get out of your front arc, the Grand Inquisitor often has ample opportunities to trigger and can assist you with getting your speed into the "just right" category where you'll be able to use your QBTs and also navigate as you prefer.
  • In conjunction with a navigate token for larger speed changes. This is another feature where I feel like the Grand Inquisitor is likely best on an ISD, but any ship that enjoys going between speed 1 and 3 and back appreciates a 1-point bump from the Inquisitor followed by a navigate token spend, especially if it's generally busy performing other commands. The trick is that the ship in question needs to prompt speed changes from enemy ships to be able to quasi-reliably pull this off, and that's why the ISD is a good candidate whereas an Arquitens or Raider, for example, is not.
With that said, the Grand Inquisitor isn't bad but I overall don't recommend him much outside an ISD, and that's an officer seat with a lot of competition. I have had more success with him on a Quad Battery Turrets ISD-II than I expected, however, so I'd definitely recommend giving it a shot at some point.

Cha cha real smooth!
Minister Tua grants her ship a defensive retrofit slot within the limits noted on her card (no doubling up on them on your medium or large ships that already have one!).

Minister Tua is pretty amazing, allowing you in most cases to add a defensive retrofit to a ship that normally doesn't have one for a 2 point fee in addition to consuming the officer slot. She's got obvious uses on VSDs and ISD-Is (all of which are heavier investments but without a defensive retrofit slot to help protect that investment), but she can also be extremely annoying on a Gozanti with Electronic Countermeasures to ignore your scatter getting locked down by an accuracy icon once per turn.

That's not to say Tua is an auto-include, though. Spending points on her in order to spend more points on her defensive retrofit can be unpalatable on cheaper ships where those extra points add up fast; conversely, having her sitting in the officer chair can be tough on more expensive ships that want a more conventional officer. If you can fit her in, however, the increased durability available to her ship can be pretty impressive compared to its usual capabilities.

It's tough being an intelligence officer stuck very unintelligently on the first Death Star.
Wulff Yularen may exhaust when you spend a command token to produce an identical token, effectively producing an infinite token. Just grab your desired token on turn one (or have it tossed to you with a Comms Net or some such) and then keep on using it. Do note that you can use a command token the same turn you get it when you turn a dial into a token, and Wulff can keep that token sticking around.

Wulff is a great, if expensive, officer and he has a lot of potential uses. I primarily find him helpful as an officer for two basic setups:
  1. On a ship that has a command-triggered upgrade. Specifically what comes to mind is a Gladiator (or any ship, really) with Engine Techs, which can be triggered every turn by having Wulff constantly respawning your navigate token. This is also the case on an Interdictor with Projection Experts, where Wulff can keep boosting your repair commands every turn with an infinite repair token, or with an Engineering Team where Wulff can keep producing 4 engineering point repair commands every turn without any extra help.
  2. On a larger ship with an abundance of command tokens. Higher-Command value ships will want to get as much done in a single activation as possible and they can hold a large number of command tokens. With Wulff on board, you can selectively reuse your most important tokens turn to turn depending on the circumstance. I have found primarily navigate and secondarily repair tokens to be most important when used this way. Simply get the tokens you want to use all game onto your ship ASAP and Wulff can let you reuse the most important one every turn.

2 comments:

  1. Hi, I just wanted to say a massive thanks for your site and its fantastic content. I bought into Armada really early on but have only got it to the table a handful of times.

    You've helped reveal the depth in the game, analyse many of the upgrades and ships I don't have (yet!) and have basically made me want to get along to more meets to push some ships around!

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    Replies
    1. You're most welcome! I'm glad to hear John and I have been helpful and sparked a renewed interest in Armada! It's a great game and we're obviously pretty excited about it overall ;).

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