Tuesday, June 20, 2017

NEW FAQ SUPER HOT TAKES

Panic! Mass hysteria! So many INCREDIBLE CHANGES AND WHAT THEY MIGHT MEAN FOR THE GAME!
FFG watching the reactions of the Armada players
Hitting these in FAQ page wise order and what this means for us all as players.  I'm using the updated images for this post.  Eric's talking about Rhymer and Demo (hey, this is Eric and I'll be talking in blue for this article to make it clear when I'm here), and I'm talking the other stuff, pretty much.  We'll ALSO be updating the relevant articles for these all as quickly as we can, with minor announcements of such when we do.
I'm so affected by this change that I don't even have a joke ready!
So Bomber Command Center is a one use/one reroll per squadron.  It used to be that you could keep stacking these, but now:
“A squadron cannot resolve more than 1 “Bomber Command Center” card per attack.”
What this means for you/your list: Well, there's very little reason to bring 3 BCC flotillas now.  You can bring 2, as one would be an overlap for if one of your flotillas dies, but 3 is really overkill, especially with only getting to roll once per squadron.  This is a minor nerf to Rieekan Aces, but if you're not flying that, how often are you bringing 3 Bomber Command Centers? It sucks that you can't go fishing for the Hit+Crit on black dice, but it does still work well and let you reroll that blank initial roll.  Still worth bringing, just not worth spamming in 3's to get high activation advantage and everything.

No more Somewhat less Engine Tech shenanigans!
Demo used to be that you could use him after any maneuver, but now:
“During your activation, you can perform 1 of your attacks after you execute your first maneuver.” 
What this means for you/your list: Because Demolisher cannot be used after your Engine Techs maneuver, you're going to need to commit Demolisher to a bit more risk if you want to be able to attack an enemy ship after your movement; you can no longer zoom in from outside of long range and then attack a victim due to Engine Techs bumping you up to fake speed 4. This change also makes it a bit trickier to set up getting certain arcs in range within the "good but not great" base maneuverability offered to you by a Gladiator prior to that oh-so-nice Engine Techs double-click speed 1 maneuver. Given how extremely powerful the Demolisher title is, it feels appropriate to require the Demolisher to accept a bit more risk to get its payoff.

I still have a hard time imagining not slapping the Demolisher title on the first Gladiator I put into a fleet. Most games I get at least one, usually two, tons-of-black-dice attacks from it that otherwise would have been wasted and that alone is worth 10 points, even if it's no longer quite so easy to do. I can see some folks leaving the Engine Techs at home due to this restriction, but I'm hesitant to recommend doing so given how much maneuver control they provide a ship that is so dependent on maneuvering.
The BIG change in my opinion
Rieekan now is a once per round.  He doesn't keep everything alive, he keeps one thing alive per round.  One squadron or one ship, and only if they're unique.
"Once per round, when a friendly ship or friendly unique squadron is destroyed, it remains in the play area and is treated as if it was not destroyed until the end of the Status Phase."
What this means for you/your list: Rieekan took a hard nerf in the face, which is understandable considering Worlds was Rieekan lists as far as the eye could see. Now, it's once per round.  No keeping your swarm of aces alive over and over and over.  A solid alpha of TIEs on the fighters is going to make for some difficult choices, especially if your ship is also about to be under attack.  Skilled Rieekan players who don't lose a bunch each round won't be too terribly affected by this, but it also means that you're going to start forcing difficult choices on the Rieekan player to make him choose WHAT stays alive.  That MC30 who is about to be in close range of the ISD or the Yavaris who wants to activate a mess of fighters?  Or Luke who you need to hit a ship several times before he dies for real?

It is a full nerf to Rieekan, and a hard change to Ace Holes, and he's not going to be the auto-pick he previously was, but for the health of the game it's good, and if you know what you're doing you should be OK somewhat.  I look at him akin to the Demo change.  If you know what you're doing, it's not terrible.  If you just drop him in, he's going to take some getting used to.

A quick side note from me, blue text man: I agree with John's take overall and I'll note that this nerf is more of a hard nerf to the "Ace Holes" squadron-heavy fleets than their less meta-ruining Rieekan swarm (small ships) cousins. Typically a Rieekan ship swarm fleet gets serious mileage from Rieekan once a turn and rarely twice. This won't be a big change for them. It also seems fortuitous for this to happen right before the Hammerheads drop, where Task Force Antilles zombie Hammerhead swarms spreading damage could've been a real mess to deal with. If you do want to run Rieekan squadrons, I think it's still quite doable but you can't really get a lot of mileage from all unique squadrons anymore. It's likely better off to go back to the pre-wave 5 style of Rieekan where a few clutch aces were scattered amongst your regular squadrons.
Oh Captain TRCs my Captain TRCs
TRC is now an exhaust effect, which means you can only use this once per ship.
“While attacking, you may exhaust this card and spend 1 Evade defense token to change 1 red die to a face with a Crit icon or 2 Hit icons.” 
What this means for you/your list: Your CR90s and MC30 Scouts are only going to be able to use this ability once per activation, so you're not going to put out massive damage from those little blighters.  They still get to use it, and you can still change a blank into a better icon, but you're not double arcing a ship and crippling it with 2 Dodonna crits.  You can't massively improve your damage output, but you can fix your blank dice.  It brings things more into a fair cost between this and Dual Turbolaser Turrets.

Strangely, I think this keeps my CR90 a bit more survivable, as I won't be able to double-trigger the TRCs, ensuring that I still have one unactivated to use as an actual evade.

I also think this change is very fair given how extremely effective Turbolaser Reroute Circuits could be on CR90As double-arcing heavier slower ships, especially with activation advantage (allowing the CR90 the ability to attack after its target had activated and thus it could freely spend its evades knowing no attacks were coming its way or earlier on in a turn doing the same and then jetting away out of trouble). There's nothing wrong with a cost-effective damage dealer at a lower cost provided that damage-dealer exposes itself to a fair amount of risk in the process. That's effectively how Raiders are designed and the risk to them is obvious due to their short range. The combination of cost-effectiveness and lesser risk due to the long range on CR90s seems to have led FFG to the conclusion that TRCs needed to be toned down, similarly to how they decided Demolisher needed a bit more risk involved in its use. I can't say I disagree with them on either of those decisions..

The sparks are coming from the nerfing he just received!
Squadrons in Rhymer's buff bubble have their anti-ship range reduced to close range from medium range.
"Friendly squadrons at distance 1 can attack enemy ships at close range using all dice in their battery armament."
What this means for you/your list: Rhymer is still worth considering for an Imperial bomber fleet, as close range is still a decent improvement over distance 1 and can make concentrating fire against a certain hull zone or getting the jump on an enemy ship that much easier. Gone are the days of seriously threatening ships on turn 1, however, and that's probably for the best. Perhaps most importantly, you will no longer be able to attack a black die flak ship from outside its flak range, so your squadrons need to expose themselves to a little danger to attack ships now.

And the last change?
"A flotilla cannot equip a commander upgrade card.”
What this means for you/your list: No more lifeboats.  No more commander far away from the action and benefitting his ships by being near them.  No more running away from the action with your 20-30 point commander and not engaging and denying me a bunch of points.  You can put him on a Raider/CR90 and run THAT away, but that's a solid 60-70 points doing nothing.  Not a great plan.

We don't have many people who play this way up near us, so we never got into it.  This doesn't hurt ME, but if your metas are like that, then this is a way to make them more in the spirit of the game.  You can still bring a bunch of flotillas as activation advantage, but your commander can't ride one out of trouble.  This ALSO means Cracken can't ride the Bright Hope repeatedly reducing damage, sadly, but eh, I'm OK with that if it silences critics of this playstyle.

I'm curious to see what kind of knock-on effects happen due to this change. Lifeboats were never the standard near us (as John said) but they weren't a rarity, either. When your commander is on a cheap ship running away from combat, it behooves you to consider methods to utilize that ship in a non-combat role - in most cases using Relay. Once you've built a method into your fleet for one ship to profitably avoid combat, it's rational to want to get use from other ships using the same apparatus you've already paid for. Without a lifeboat flotilla available in the first place, I'm curious if we'll see less Relay shenanigans and runaway flotillas. It seems as though if your commander's ship is going to need to get into the fight somewhere to justify its cost (even if on the edges) then it behooves you to not send some ships that could be doing something (even just the flak on an unarmed GR75) flying off into nowhere when they could be contributing. But maybe not. We'll see.