Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Imperial commander review: Admiral Motti

Welcome to the first of many Imperial commander reviews! Let's begin with Admiral Motti.
You may remember him sass-mouthing Vader before getting force choked in A New Hope.
Admiral Motti has a very direct benefit that many would describe as "boring, but good." As usual, a few things of note, in bullet point form:
  • Your ships only gain the bonus hull points while Motti is on the table. Once your flagship is destroyed, Motti takes the secret of his magic duct tape to the grave, which can cause fleets to exist in a perilous circumstance where destroying Motti's ship can cause some (or all!) of your remaining ships to be destroyed as their inflated hull values revert to normal.
  • Flotillas are ships of the same size class as their base so Motti will give them bonus hull depending on their base size (as of the writing of this article, only small flotillas exist). I've come across some players who erroneously believe flotillas are their own size class but that is incorrect.
  • Motti does nothing for huge ships, so he doesn't work with the SSD.
Motti is one of the rare Imperial commanders that can be added to any fleet and he works just fine, as every ship enjoys having more hull. He's also a very reasonable cost of only 24 points, which is quite good given that its benefit in most 400 point games would be around 6 hull points for your fleet and often more. The main response to the question of "why not just run him in every fleet?" is "opportunity cost." There are many fleets that do better with different commanders, but I'm covering Motti first because I encourage you to think of him as the default Imperial commander. If, upon reviewing your fleet, your chosen commander isn't doing as much for your whole fleet as Motti who just blundered into the commander chair of a fleet he's never seen before, then chances are pretty good you should look into redesigning your fleet 😉.

Motti's benefit is more efficient the cheaper your ship is for its size class. A 23-point no upgrades ("naked") Gozanti gets the same +1 hull point as a super-upgraded 90 point Gladiator-class Star Destroyer, so there's a bit of an incentive to go lighter on upgrades and cheaper on ships to further milk Motti's buff by just putting more ships on the table. That's not to say there's no place for expensive ships with Motti, just... be careful with that.

As I mentioned earlier, Motti is happy to give extra hull points to anything (besides the SSD 🙁) so in the truest sense of the term, he'll take any ship you want to give him. That being said, he's generally looking for a few qualities in ships that make them top-tier contenders:
  • Able to handle itself without a lot of outside assistance. Motti gives you more hull but that's all he does. If your ship needs a commander to "fix" an issue that isn't "this thing dies too fast" then it's not going to perform as well as you'd like. The usual example I'll give here is the Cymoon: it can do all right with the right upgrades but it really shines with easier access to dice control like with Commander Vader. You can resolve these issues with the right upgrade suite, but it can get pricey and a little clunky.
  • Access to a defensive retrofit slot and/or some other kind of defensive tech (like the Interdictor's Targeting Scrambler). Stacked defensive improvements are often greater than the sum of their parts, so combining Motti's extra hull with upgrades that make it more difficult to destroy the ship in question are pretty great. You can cheat a defensive retrofit in with Tua, but it's even better if you can save the officer seat for someone else.
    • It should be noted that simply being tanky isn't enough, though. You need some way to actually win and good objectives and/or punchy ships and squads is how it's done.
  • Relatively cheap for its size to maximize the amount of points it gives (as mentioned above).
Very few ships have all 3 of these traits, but those I'm going to recommend meet at least 2.

ISD-IIs and Kuat ISDs. Both variants are capable all on their own without need for outside help, appreciate the extra 3 hull points, and come with a built-in defensive retrofit slot. Beautiful.

Onagers. Onagers are the cheapest large bases available to the Empire and they have a bit of a glass jaw when opponents finally get up in their business, 3 more hull points can make the difference that allows your Onager to stay on the table.

Gozantis. So long as you're planning to keep them at range, the +1 hull here is cheaply gained and can be the difference between life and death. Close ranged Gozantis aren't really going to notice the difference, though.

Quasars. +2 hull on the game's cheapest medium ship that has a notable glass jaw and likes to hang out in the types of fleets most scared of being tabled (squad heavy) is a pretty good thing.

Again, any ships will do just fine, but some ships do better than others so give the above some consideration.

Fleet building
Motti lends himself well to just about any base archetype. If you're running a lot of ships or fewer bigger ships more hull never hurts to further magnify an advantage. If you're running heavy squads, more hull keeps you from getting tabled. Of all the commanders, he has by far the least restrictions in fleet building because he'll take anything.


  1. I would rank the ships that gain the most synergy from Motti differently:
    1. ISD. Usually with ISD in your fleet your whole strategy depends on its survival, so +3 HP is a strategic benefit here and can differentiate between winning or losing a game.
    2. Raider(!) Pepole may be surprised here, but that extra one hull on a raider is a big deal, as now its much less likely to be one shot and can be flown more agressively.
    3. VSD. 10 hull, a lot of damage output and expendable.
    4. Interdictor. Becomes a headache to kill.
    5. Gladiator. For the same reason Raider is #2.
    6. Flotillas. Nice to have that extra hull, but if someone hunts it it'll be dead anyway, and if noone does - its death has only a tactical disadvantage.
    7. Arquittens. As in - everyone else ;)

    1. I'm also a fan of the Raider with Motti even though I was skeptical at first, but I don't feel it has particularly strong synergy, just decent synergy. It's a great inclusion with slower fleets as it can guard flanks very well. I feel similarly about the Gladiator - sure, +1 HP is useful and can sometimes keep your Demolisher ticking when it would have otherwise died, but Gladiators are best used with some decent investment in upgrades, which waters down Motti's benefit.

      I'd also like to add that there's not really a ranking system amongst the categories. Something that's listed first under "strong synergy" isn't necessarily stronger than something listed third, for example. It's very context-dependent and subjective and I'd prefer to avoid a ranking list for that reason.

    2. I updated the article to remove the ships section. I think I'd rather talk more about that when I get to the individual ship reviews where it can be done in a more nuanced fashion. I'm not a big fan of ranking things as it tends to produce argument for no real benefit and even if it is a 3-tier system, it's still a ranking system. Thanks for your comments, though.

  2. Somewhat new to Armada and I have to say this page has been very helpful! Quick question for the pros: I'm running a fleet of three ISD's for the Corellian Conflict. I'm torn between commander Vader, or Motti with 3 Leading Shots. They work out to the same point value and I'm not sure which way to go.

    1. It really depends a lot on what kind of ISDs they are but generally I'd go Motti. That said, I'm generally not keen on triple ISD fleets where 2 or 1 plus support usually performs better in my experience.

  3. The Imp Venator may breathe some life back into Motti, I feel. Its hull points and defense tokens really give him a chance to shine in turning it into a cheap, durable salvo brawler. Very interested to see what folks come up with.