In short, we're playing games and getting a sense for it but new articles and article amendments will wait for at least a little while until we have some more play data. I don't want to jump the gun too early before I at least have a decent gut feeling about whatever and I know John feels similarly. Don't worry, as when we update we'll let you know what was updated. This has been the major reason why articles have slowed down a bit - we want to be fairly confident in our assessments before we post anything "official."
Don't worry, though, we've definitely got some articles planned. John's still pursuing his checklist project and I've got another big article on deployment in my to-do pile(this time on ship deployment) as well as a few other ideas percolating. Oh, and we're hitting up another store championship this upcoming Saturday so I'd expect at least some discussion of how that went, too!
For now, we've been playing and observing games and below are my shoot-from-the-hip impressions so far of wave 6. John, if you've got anything to add/correct, please chime in!
- External Racks are amazing. Every ship in the game that can equip an ordnance upgrade should consider this their default upgrade for the slot. It's perfect for cheaper ships (like Raiders and Torp Hammerheads) that get iffy about using more expensive or crit-dependent upgrades and it's perfect for slower ships (like VSDs and Assault Peltas) that usually only get in one short-ranged shot a game. The only ships that are dubious about External Racks instead of more expensive/crit-dependent upgrades are the Gladiator and MC30, and even they can go for it in the right builds and do fine.
- On a related note, External Rack Raiders are extremely mean. With a possibility of a 7-dice front arc (starting 4 + 2 from External Racks + 1 from concentrate fire dial) with black die rerolls from Ordnance Experts, you can one-shot lighter ships (like CR90s and Hammerheads) and put a serious dent into even moderately durable ships, particularly if you get an accuracy to lock down the brace.
- Hammerheads are still being figured out. Task Force upgrades seem promising. They seem to operate like knockoff hull-heavy Rebel Raiders that like working as a team with other Hammerheads. External Racks on the Torp Hammerheads are money, but rerolls become very important if you want to make those black dice behave. Scout Hammerheads still need some figuring out.
- Task Force Antilles in particular has been decisive in saving Hammerheads that definitely should have been destroyed for an extra turn or two. It's been my experience in other minis games I've played over the years that mechanics that let you spread damage at your discretion can be surprisingly powerful and it seems like at the very least it's a legitimate option with Hammerheads. A Shields to Maximum! Pelta playing healbot in the background cranks Task Force Antilles up to 11.
- Quasars seem to be bringing back Imperial fighter squadrons due to a cheap and easy place to put Flight Controllers for a big fighter alpha strike. Quasar titles are so good it feels wrong to not use one. They're not super durable but if used in support of/behind more combat-heavy vessels, they do fine.
- Quad Battery Turrets show promise with heavier ships like VSDs and HMC80s (5 points to add an extra blue die to most attacks regardless of hull zone and using up a turbolaser slot has a lot going for it!). I'm unsure if this will carry through if/when the meta becomes suffused with enough slow ships trying to benefit from QBTs, however, but with the naturally slower ships it's neat and at this point my knee-jerk feeling is it's effectively a default upgrade for every VSD with the possible exception of Jerry VSDs, which like going speed 2 to maximize Jerjerrod's benefit.
- The main argument against QBTs comes down to "why not Dual Turbolaser Turrets, which work on one attack all the time?" Slower ships have a good answer for that. Faster ships generally don't.
- Disposable Capacitors have been getting rave reviews on VSD-IIs. So far I don't have any play experience (direct or indirect) with Raider-IIs (eh?) or Interdictors (...hrm), but it's intriguing at the very least.
- Boarding Troopers seems to be surprising people when paired with the Avenger ISD for some big heavy attacks. That's about it so far, but we'll see if it turns up more frequently on other ships.
- Conversely, Boarding Engineers doesn't seem to see a lot of use except on the occasional Hammerhead, with results generally being "okay, I guess?" It seems to have more synergy with Dodonna (as you can deliberately assign the "do bad stuff then flip this card over" crit to enemy ships then re-flip it over again with the Engineers later if you wish) but otherwise I haven't seen it much or heard it being discussed much.
- Cham also hasn't been mentioned much but that may change as people try out weirder things...
- Hondo has been fun. I expect to see more of him in the future. 2 tokens for 2 points (with a downside) is pretty good overall!
- Sloane has not resulted in the sky falling and locusts consuming our Armada peripherals. Consensus so far seems to be she helps handle enemy aces and is helpful (but not amazing)for using your TIEs against ships but the doomsday scenario of TIE Fighter swarms spending every defense token in the enemy fleet hasn't come to pass. If anything, early playtest responses have been a little underwhelmed, as there's a delicate balancing act involved in bringing enough fighters to win the squadron mini-game with enough time to hit ships but not going too hard on them because it creates increasing burdens for the rest of your fleet when it comes to commanding squadrons.
- Similarly, I think we'll be playing around with Sloane squadron builds for some time. Cheap generic TIE Fighters and TIE Interceptors are the most cost-effective recipients for squadron buffs (like Howlrunner and Flight Controllers) but they struggle to bring attacks against enemy ships consistently before flak destroys them or at least chases them away. Aces are much more durable (especially against flak with the scatter aces) but more expensive and you don't get the volume of attacks you'd like against ships and aces for Sloane's ability. Some middle ground seems ideal, and perhaps also the TIE Phantom, but the meta is still young on this one.
- Given her early popularity at the very least, I still feel like no-squadron fleets (or nearly-no-squadron fleets like Tycho+Shara) are at least for now operating at a serious disadvantage in a tournament environment given the possible bad matchups floating out there.
- Commander Leia shows promise but she's also being figured out (John is making it his goal to solo her like crazy until he understands her secrets). I think early attempts to use her with higher-Command ships are misdirected in favor of lower-Command fleets (overall, anyways), but who knows?
- Yavaris and Salvation Nebulon-Bs are certainly loving some of what Leia has to offer for Command 2 ships, though, and the Pelta seems to offer a means to circumvent some of Leia's downside if you wish to pay for it.
- Last I spoke with John he was in the weird situation of thinking MC30s didn't have a lot of synergy with Leia overall, which is a weird thing to hear from John given his intense love of MC30s.