|The Victory-I knows how to take a more flattering profile picture. Take note, Victory-II.|
- Maximum speed 2. This isn't inherently awful (many ships with a higher maximum speed will still spend much of the game around speed 2, such as ISDs), but it can be troublesome when you need to chase something down or run away and you just can't step on the gas to make that happen. The VSD is the only non-huge speed 2 ship in the game without inherent access to a support team slot for Engine Techs, so you can't cheat your way to a fake speed 3 like the other speed 2 ships can.
- Terrible yaw. They get a single click of yaw at both their speed settings and it comes at the final segment of the maneuver tool. No non-huge ship has worse yaw than a VSD does.
- Trying to get your front arc on target with poor yaw can be particularly frustrating against fast, maneuverable ships like CR90s.
- A single blue flak die for flak is poor for the VSD's points cost and coupled with its low speed means that it can't threaten bombers going after it nor can it outrun them. You'll need fighter squadrons to keep bombers from picking you to pieces.
- No inherent defensive retrofit slot. So long as a VSD gets to use its defense tokens, it's actually pretty durable. If it doesn't, it can be surprisingly vulnerable, especially given it's not fast enough to run away. Just like most expensive ships with a single brace, it's generally desperate for Electronic Countermeasures to go up against other heavier combat ships.
- 8 hull and 10 total shields fairly even distributed across the arcs taking most attacks (the front and sides) make it a pretty durable chunk of ship for its points cost, particularly with the cheaper VSD-I.
- As mentioned earlier, though, defense token debuffs (particularly anything that hoses/locks down your brace) can cause problems.
- Dice. Just lots and lots of dice for its cost. 6 in the front arc, 3 out the sides, and 2 (red!) from the rear. Compared to its counterpart, the Rebel Assault Frigate, you're getting 50% more dice from your best arc (6 front vs. 4 side) and 50% more dice from your second-best (3 side vs. 2 front/rear - the Assault Frigate MkIIA does have 3 as well but it's a pretty rare sight). Small ships that end in the VSD's front arc can occasionally be swatted down in a single attack, which is very satisfying.
- Speaking of the front arc, it's a big juicy wide arc that covers a large amount of real estate.
- 3 Squadron and 4 Engineering are pretty standard for "heavy medium" ships and allows it to act as a decent second-tier carrier and to repair as well as most large ships.
Keep it as cheap as possible. The VSD has the same issue a lot of medium combat ships do in that it seems to start cheap for a "junior" version of a large ship but if you treat it like a large ship and pour on the upgrades it rapidly becomes a lot more expensive and doesn't compare well at all to a similarly-upgraded ISD. There will be some builds where we ignore this advice but at all times try to keep your upgrades cheap and minimal to retain the maximum benefit of the VSD: it gets good dice and chunkiness for a lower price point.
Deployment weights heavily on how useful a VSD is going to be before it even activates. Good deployment is important for every ship, but the worse a ship's speed and maneuverability, the more important deployment is because you have less capability to "fix" a deployment mistake. Given the VSD has a terrible nav chart, your deployment decisions with it are extremely important. Try to deploy the VSD as late as possible so you have the most information about where to put it and try to keep it towards the outside of the fight (so it's tough to gang up on or go around "the long way") but not too far to the outside (where it's easy to run away from).
VSDs love friends. VSDs do not do well unsupported because getting around them is generally easy to do and with their poor yaw they don't get a second chance to attack anything that slips past with their front arc. By operating near other ships, their flanks are guarded and slipping past them becomes much more dangerous. Flank guards don't need to be expensive - ships like Raiders and Arquitens do just fine and can still do what they want to do while also making going around the VSD's side dangerous. VSDs can also team up with larger ships like ISDs and SSDs to guard one another's flanks.
Navigate constantly unless you have something better to do. Remember those speed chart problems I mentioned earlier? Maneuverability in particular is a huge problem for VSDs and by using navigate commands to increase your yaw (and change speed when necessary) you are doubling your yaw. The significance of doubling your yaw cannot be overstated and it helps the VSD keep its front arc on targets and to some extent avoid trouble. I encourage you to think of it this way: if you use a navigate command to keep a target in your front arc when you otherwise would not have been able to do so, you just used a better concentrate fire command - at full dice range, you get twice the dice from a front arc attack vs. a side arc attack and even at red dice range you get 1 more dice overall, the same as concentrate fire but much more likely to be in a situation where enemy attacks are directed at the front hull zone where you can redirect more effectively (to either of your 3 shield sides).
Consider speed 1. This isn't to say don't ever go speed 2, merely consider speed 1 at all times. VSDs have a tendency to overshoot targets heading towards them when they go speed 2 because they simply can't reposition well enough with their limited yaw. Once the enemy is past them, it's nearly impossible to get the front arc on target again. When going speed 1 (particularly with the extra yaw from a nav dial), you get more time with enemies in your front arc.
Don't concentrate fire. I'm sure there are always those 1% instances where concentrate fire is the correct command choice, but in general I strongly recommend avoiding it. Adding a single die to an attack when you generally are relying on timing it correctly with a sluggish Command 3 ship is rather tricky. You are nearly always better served using navigate (as mentioned above) as your default command, with repair and/or squadrons sprinkled in as necessary. Keeping your VSD relevant through navigate commands pays off much better throughout the game than a single extra dice can.
With Squadron 3, even your gunship VSDs can pitch in for help with squadron commanding on a crucial round or two. There's nothing wrong with leaving the primary squad-commanding work to dedicated carriers, but a VSD can definitely pitch in on commanding squadrons when necessary - I find it's most often useful doing this on round 2 and/or 3 when dogfighting is at its heaviest and you still have all your squadrons.
Lead your targets. It's fairly common to see newer players direct their VSDs directly at the ships they wish to attack next turn. The problem with this approach is that unless the VSD activates before the intended target, the target can usually zip out of the VSD's front arc before the VSD gets to shoot. For that reason, I encourage you to turn the VSD so that the target is on the edge of your front arc with its future movement path taking it into the remainder of your big front arc. This makes front arc attacks much easier to line up and makes your VSD attacks less order-of-activation dependent. This is overall good advice for any front arc attack ship, but for something less maneuverable like a VSD, it's more important still.
|For example, something like this!|
|Entry #3427 in "the Empire seems to understand they're the bad guys by ship names alone"|
Corrupter is pretty straightforward. There are only two things that need to be mentioned:
- This only works on squarons with the Bomber keyword. Sorry, Decimators.
- When your speed is altered, Corrupter will modify that altered speed. Specifically, Corrupter when used with Admiral Chiraneau will result in speed 2+1=3 Bombers.
Corrupter has come back into some viability now in Armada 1.5 largely due to the demotion of Intel, which took away its job when combined with Admiral Chiraneau to allow for speed 3 Bombers that can move out of engagement but at a hefty points cost. That said, Corrupter can still be pretty handy even without the Chiraneau combo for yeeting Bombers from a ways out, and can even give a bit of a leg up to Firesprays, allowing them to pounce at speed 4 before going back to mucking about as speed 3 Rogue Bombers in future rounds.
The main constraint with Corrupter is getting value out of it, especially the expensive Chiraneau combination, requires using that VSD as a committed carrier. That's not necessarily a bad idea, but you'll want some outside assistance to help overcome your standard yaw/speed problems. A commander like Jerjerrod or Thrawn can help with that, as can Take Evasive Action.
|"Here on the Dominator, we're tops!" *winks*|
Dominator needs a bit more rules clarification:
- Remember that Dominator only works at close-medium range. It doesn't matter if you can sneak your blue dice out to long range with Disposable Capacitors, Dominator still won't work at long range.
- You can eat the shields from whichever combination of hull zones you like. One or two, your call.
- Dominator can add blue dice to any close-medium ranged attack, regardless of target type. You can use it against squadrons if you're desperate, but remember that you'll need to trigger Dominator separately for each individual squad, so your shields can vanish quickly.
- As an add effect, be careful to not roll in those extra dice until you're supposed to.
|Winner of the Rebellion in the Rim "old to gold" award.|
Oh boy, it's finally time to talk about Harrow! The good news is Harrow's effect is pretty straightforward: you gain a support team slot and your speed-1 maneuvers are made at 2 clicks. Very neat for 3 points. It should be noted that every speed 1 maneuver you make is buffed in this way, with the obvious combo being with the extra Engine Techs move but this also works with the Officer Ozzel start-of-game speed-1 move as well as the Rift Ambush extra speed-1 move and the like. For a moment of zen, use a nav dial with Engine Techs, Harrow, and Moff Jerjerrod to do a speed 2+1 move with maximum clicks on every joint. That's some insane maneuverability on any ship, much less a normally-sluggish VSD.
Okay, so the point of Harrow is to put Engine Techs on a VSD so it can go fake speed 3, right? Well... I mean yes, to an extent; that's the obvious combination. That said, the extra support team slot can be used in some clever ways. For example:
- Projection Experts can be handy for a VSD used in a fleet-support role: you can shield-supplement a larger ship but still use the VSD as a flank guard/area-denial piece. Typically Projection Experts ships tend to be a little less offensively potent, but not this build.
- Combine with other defensive upgrades across your fleet and this "Medic VSD" build can be pretty helpful.
- Fighter Coordination Team gives your squads a little extra bump, but that can add up. For extra fun combine with Officer Ozzel and Expanded Hangar Bays for a pre-round-1 move followed by a free speed 1 bump on 4 squadrons.
- This also allows you to put Fighter Coordination Teams and Flight Controllers on the same ship, which normally is rather difficult to do effectively. In that case, I'd recommend Flight Commander as the officer so you can resolve your squadron command after your VSD move and the FCT squad bump.
- Auxiliary Shields Team is a somewhat-boring option but that said you spend a total of 6 points between them and Harrow and the end result is a VSD with better speed-1 yaw and the ability to go up to 4 shields in the side arcs for some extra tankiness. Combine with a defensive officer and otherwise keep your VSD cheap and you've got a pretty durable Junior ISD.
|"For the last time, Nicholas Cage isn't serving aboard this vessel."|
Warlord rules bullet points!
- Note that there is no restriction stopping you from changing an accuracy side on a red die to a double-hit (like the restriction on Intensify Firepower, for example). In fact, that's the best way to use Warlord.
- You can use it with blue dice too, of course, but the effect is less dramatic.
- Warlord is also happy to be used against ships or squads. It makes no distinction. This can be very important for flak, which we'll get to soon.
There's another fun interaction with flak and H9s because with a single blue die for flak, a VSD with H9s does a guaranteed single point of damage to every squadron it flaks. Let me explain why:
- Blue die rolls a hit (50% chance) = it's a hit already
- Blue die rolls a crit (25% chance) = use H9s to convert it to an accuracy = use Warlord to convert it to a single hit
- Blue die rolls an accuracy (25% chance) = use Warlord to convert it to a single hit
|Here comes Bubba!|
The VSD-I has the substantial benefit of being cheap for all its raw stats (hull, shields, dice) at 73 points. Because the VSD-I and VSD-II share the same problems (speed, yaw, defense token screwage hurts badly) but retain the same advantages, I urge you to consider the VSD-I the default VSD because it's just so much cheaper than the VSD-II as a starting platform. On that note, please remember to try to keep it as cheap as you can.
I encourage you to think of the black dice as a deterrent (oh, so you want to get close, huh?) moreso than an active source of damage - the VSD's speed/maneuverability problems make it pretty unreliable at delivering black dice to targets more proactively like you can do with an Kuat, Raider, or Gladiator. The Harrow title can allow for some more aggressive positioning, but otherwise don't get your hopes up. The red dice can unfortunately be unreliable, and unless you're using Warlord and/or some external dice-fixing (like Intensify Firepower or Commander Vader) it can be difficult to count on them to deliver when you need them to.
So it's slow, you can't count on delivering its black dice, and its remaining red dice aren't reliable damage dealers. Why would you use this ship again? Well, the upgrades can help focus it on a specific task.
Many of the upgrade choices are conditional on what you're trying to build your VSD to do, so it's going to seem like there are a surprising diversity of choices, but depending on the role you want the VSD-I to fill many of the choices are already pretty prescribed.
There's nothing wrong with leaving slots empty! If none of those upgrades help your VSD do its job, then don't fill them in just to fill them in.
A lot of your standard "big ship" officers here, but a few surprising options as well:
- Skilled First Officer is the cheap way to fill up the officer slot and help correct for your Command 3. I go into more detail in the (linked) SFO article the various uses for this guy but if you're not otherwise using the slot, I'd recommend SFO.
- Expert Shield Tech is pretty handy as a defensive officer and takes advantage of the VSD's double redirects to improve its durability.
- Officer Ozzel is cheap and helps with the standard VSD problem of not being fast enough/having problems getting outdeployed. A speed 1 move before the game starts can help with both of these problems and combines well with Harrow.
- Minister Tua was made for this job and provides the VSD with the defensive retrofit slot it so desperately needs to survive against heavy combat ships.
- That said, the total package gets pricey, especially if you go with Electronic Countermeasures, which will need repair tokens to consistently repair.
You run into some issues here in that VSD-Is don't do any one thing strongly enough to have strong contenders for weapon team inherently. Depending on the rest of your build, though, several different options present themselves:
- Flight Controllers have a natural place on a VSD you want to use as a fighty carrier.
- Local Fire Control is a fun option on a VSD to replace a redirect with a salvo, making it into an alternate Acclamator with a better salvo (two red, as opposed to red+blue or red+black) and slightly better front arc.
- Ordnance Experts is usually a mistake given how you can't rely on using your black dice, but on an aggressive Harrow build they have a place.
- You could make a similar argument for Boarding Troopers or Vader boarding team if you felt brave and had an open offensive retrofit slot.
- Ruthless Strategists can be circumstantially amazing on the VSD-I flak build but it's otherwise an odd choice here.
If you're building a carrier VSD, you pretty much need to consider your usual choice of Boosted Comms or Expanded Hangar Bay. Reserve Hangar Deck is an excellent compromise choice on a VSD that wants to help with squads a bit but won't be focusing on it all game. Otherwise, I'd look to fill this slot with Proximity Mines if you have the spare points: 2 mines for 4 points is the sweet spot.
If it's anything at all, it's usually External Racks. VSDs usually won't get more than one round at close range against enemy ships and they can't guarantee they'll get their front arc either with their poor yaw, and that's the arc that's got a decent chance of triggering a black critical upgrade. External Racks work out of any arc and against any kind of target.
Ordnance Pods are an inexpensive way to improve your flak coverage against squadrons if you're otherwise not using the slot and can be fun in some flak builds with Agent Kallus.
Engine Techs Harrow is probably the only VSD that can argue for black critical upgrades and now that they're cheaper and exhaust to use, it can't hurt to try. Your call on Assault Proton Torpedoes or Assault Concussion Missiles. It'll depend on the rest of your fleet.
When in doubt, even a cheap turbolaser can at least help with dice consistency or simply adding some dice.
- Quad Battery Turrets. These would be my default choice given it's not too tough to get the extra blue die when you're going slow, which you often are. For only 5 points, it's an easy inclusion.
- Linked Turbolaser Towers help your red dice consistency and give you a once-per-round option to focus fire on a specific squadron. That said, they're still 7 points and if you're not getting two uses from them a round then the extra cost on the VSD-I isn't worth it.
- H9 Turbolasers are not recommended unless you're using the Warlord title, in which case they're nearly mandatory.
You can build your VSD-I into a couple basic roles and I'll be providing examples. For the most part I have a hard time not recommending Harrow, or failing that, Warlord, for most VSDs. There's still a fair amount of room for tweaking the different builds and any upgrade slots I don't specifically fill are yours to do with as you see fit but I don't consider essential to what the build is trying to do.
Slow Flak Triangle of Doom
Warlord, Agent Kallus, H9 Turbolasers, Ordnance Pods, Ruthless Strategists
This VSD isn't cheap, but as part of the right squadron fleet, it can be surprisingly potent with its flak and has the upside of frequently being underestimated. If you want to fill the offensive retrofit slot I'd probably recommend Advanced Transponder Network for its synergy with TIE Bombers and Ruthless Strategists or Quad Laser Turrets if you're okay with squadrons attacking you and want to auto-ping them for at least one every time, while triggering Kallus more.
Anyways, the deal is this: Agent Kallus adds an extra die against unique squads to every attack, which includes the Ordnance Pods attack. Ruthless Strategists can ding your friendly squadrons to ding enemy squadrons as well on every attack too (which again, includes Ordnance Pods) and is recommended with cheap high-hull squadrons like TIE Bombers. When it comes to your standard flak attack, keep in mind Kallus adds his die after your initial flak roll (or Ordnance Pods black flak) so you can decide if you want to roll in a boring but fairly (75%) reliable black die to go for another damage, or, if you want to play it safe with a blue die (100% chance of accuracy or damage so long as H9s and Warlord are free to help) or a go for a double-hit on a red die (75% chance of double-hit so long as H9s and Warlord are free to help). The red die trick is pretty mean and can regularly get your damage up to 3, which means brace aces are bracing it to 2.
When you combine this onslaught with the extra damage from Ruthless Strategists and the extra attack from Ordnance Pods against close-range squads in one arc, it gets ugly QUICK. I've used this ship to flak Luke Skywalker from completely healthy to dead in a single activation. It was glorious.
If you want to run this without squadrons of your own for Ruthless Strategists, then I'd definitely recommend Quad Laser Turrets for your offensive retrofit and Ordnance Experts for your weapon team (as you can reroll the black die from Ordnance Pods and/or any added black dice from Kallus).
Harrow, Officer Ozzel, Engine Techs, Ordnance Experts, External Racks
Chubby Demolisher gets a speed-1 move right off the bat (with 2 yaw) and then round 1 you can move it an extra 3 (2+1), moving it effectively speed 4 in the first round. This is a great ship for going after weaker prey and it can boast a pretty terrifying front arc with External Racks (5 black, 3 red).
Ozzel isn't mandatory here and if you'd rather use a defensive officer there's nothing wrong with swapping him out. It's just the extra speed-1 move gives you a jump on quickly delivering those black dice from a platform that is normally rather sluggish. Similarly, if you've got some form of dice control through Vader (either commander or officer) or Screed, I'd strongly recommend replacing your Ordnance Experts with a boarding team (I'd generally go Boarding Troopers, but boarding team Vader has his merits) for that little extra kick in the face.
Harrow, Fighter Coordination Teams, Flight Controllers, Flight Commander, Expanded Hangar Bays
Harrow breathes some new life into the old pre-Quasar carrier VSD build and with this setup costing 93 total points, you get an effective Squadrons 4 carrier that can actually throw some dice and take much more punishment than a Quasar that also features both Fighter Coordination Teams and Flight Controllers for a consistent distance-1 squad bump followed by mean anti-squadron attacks. This build is more appealing with a commander that helps you navigate while commanding squadrons, like Jerry or Thrawn.
Local Fire Control, Linked Turbolaser Towers
This build turns the VSD into a cheap(...ish, for its size) fire support ship by giving it access to salvo. Ideally, your VSD is firing from its front arc, side arc, and then salvoing back. This gives you 3 red dice, 2 red dice, and then 2 red dice again, with each attack getting a single red die reroll. If your opponent gets close enough, the extra black dice (External Racks strongly recommended but not mandatory) can help too. Just keep an eye on your defense tokens: going down to one brace, one redirect, one salvo is a double-edged sword: you get a lot more versatility in terms of what your defense tokens can do (and you don't have two dead weight redirects once your shields are down), but it's easier to lock down your one redirect with an accuracy icon.
If you want to go deluxe on this build, you can always include the Warlord title and H9 Turbolasers instead of LTTs but it gets pricey. That said, once per attack flipping any non-blank die you roll to an accuracy and then a double-hit makes all those attacks add up.
|Wait, how many more points? For what?|
The VSD-II replaces the VSD-I's black dice in the front and side arcs with blue dice and replaces the VSD-I's ordnance slot with an ion cannon slot. That seems better but when you see the price tag of +12 points (a 17% increase!) with no other improvements, sticker shock sets in quickly.
Unlike the VSD-I, that can be fairly flexibly reconfigured into a couple different specializations, the high cost of the VSD-II doesn't make it as appealing for some of these earlier jobs where blue dice and the ion cannon slot are appreciated but not 12 more points appreciated. Therefore, your VSD-II builds and upgrade choices are largely built around accentuating its strengths by combining it with Disposable Capacitors to deliver some long-ranged pain and blue dice at a lower price than an artillery ISD.
Same as the VSD-I, for the most part. Intel Officer gets a bit more appealing with a longer-ranged dice suite but so does Minister Tua if you intend to try going toe to toe with ships bigger than you.
Gunnery Team is the easy call here, but there's an argument to be made for Weapon Battery Techs if you're designing a VSD-II built around delivering a blue crit upgrade. We'll cover that more below with builds.
This is always and forever the Disposable Capacitors slot and I consider it absolutely mandatory. If you're not using Disposable Capacitors on a VSD-II, you really should not be bringing a VSD-II.
Depending on your other upgrades, the choice here is usually Leading Shots but with the right builds can also be your choice of blue crit upgrades, with my vote going strongly to Heavy Ion Emplacements.
You've got pretty much the same selection as before, but with some differences:
- Quad Battery Turrets. I prefer these on VSD-IIs even moreso than VSD-Is because of the synergy with the ion cannon upgrade (either useful for Leading Shots or gives an improved chance to trigger a blue critical) and because your VSD-Is typically want to get to standoff range and stall at speed 1 to keep things at range and in their front arc. It also has the notable upside of being cheap, which helps keep costs down on your VSD-II.
- Spinal Armament is the no-nonsense "I want more dice in my front arc, no questions asked" option and pairs fairly well with Leading Shots to help keep your red dice behaving, but it's not cheap.
- H9 Turbolasers combine well with Weapons Battery Techs for guaranteed blue crit icons, but I'm otherwise not super keen on them with VSD-IIs. You'll usually get a blue accuracy from your full battery, especially with Leading Shots involved, and simply focusing on red dice with Warlord is usually a VSD-I thing to save points.
Disposable Capacitors, Gunnery Team, Quad Battery Turrets, Leading Shots
Big Bertha is your "standard" pre-officer VSD-II build and isn't cheap at 104 points base (prior to officer or other upgrades), but she's capable of tossing some serious pain downfield at long range on her Disposable Capacitors super-activation. Just be very careful to get your attacks lined up and get maximum value from your Disposable Capacitors.
Ion crit battery
Disposable Capacitors, Weapons Battery Techs, H9 Turbolasers, Heavy Ion Emplacements
This is a similar build to "Big Bertha" up above but instead of trying to hose down as many targets as it can, it focuses on ruining one ship's day each round with Heavy Ion Emplacements it can trigger guaranteed (due to H9s+Weapons Battery Techs) at long range on its Disposable Capacitors round and then every round thereafter so long as you can get a target at medium or closer range. I'd give serious consideration to an Intel Officer on this build, as targeting the brace while nuking the shields can cause problems very quickly. It still can't solo a larger ship, though (which makes sense given it's not the cost of a large ship), and will need help to take them down before they get their revenge.
There are two alternative options available for this build:
- Replace H9 Turbolasers with Quad Battery Turrets. This no longer guarantees you the blue critical icon but it does add a blue die pretty frequently, which increases the odds of triggering the HIEs by just rolling a crit naturally as well as offering the possibility of triggering your HIEs at long range on non-Disposable Capcitors rounds (even just one blue die is a 50% chance with Weapons Battery Techs, if you con fire up to 2, it improves to 75%). Screed in particular likes this option as he can guarantee the blue crit.
- Add Warlord and Intel Officer to the mix. The end points cost on this beast is staggering but ensures that if you don't need the H9s for the blue crit (you often won't, especially from the front), they can be used to flip red dice around to a double-hit. The damage this thing can fling is sufficient enough to make Intel Officer pretty compelling as an officer choice but keep this thing as safe as you can because it's prone to exploding under heavy fire.