Thursday, December 10, 2020

Nebulon Bs! Jousting for Fun and Profit

So Eric's encouraged me to start doing ship reviews.  This, combined with the fact that I've exhausted the Wave 2 squadrons and am in the middle of playing several Wave 5 ones, along with the fact that the Squadrons Post is going to take some doing (it's coming along, I swear! I have Vassal and everything for fancy-pants pictures!) means I'm going to take both a slow-down (I'm not able to do 4-5 articles a week this way, or else I'll burn out) and a refocus (again, i haven't forgotten the Squadrons Article.  It's just going to involve both several parts and a decent time to get everything through.  Expect the first one when the bell tolls one by Friday, hopefully).

So on that note: let's do a ship review of the Nebulon B.
Throw up the card!
Fun fact: when Eric and I got into this game, we referred to the Support Refit as the "Garbage Truck" variant.  Why would you cheap out on points when you can command more squadrons and have better AA? Ah, youth!
The two Nebulon B's (Neb B's, or Nebs for ease of my typing, haha) have an incredibly strong front arc.  3 Shields, 3 red dice, this was basically (at the time of release) a stripped down Victory Star Destroyer.  The Assault Frigate had 4 shields, but that was an entirely different ship, with a different role and all. Look at how fast the Neb can move, it can beat VSDs in a speed match, this ship was amazing!

Then you look at the side arc.  One shield is a gateway to Sadness Town by way of the damage cards on your ship train.  We all hate that train.  The 1 shield on the sides is certainly.... existent.  But it does not protect you from a significant amount of damage.  The 2 brace tokens help that a lot, but if an enemy ever rolls 2 accuracies on you, that could be trouble.  It's sold with Enhanced Armaments, but I wouldn't use them together. The smartest way to use a ship is not to necessarily improve a bad/mediocre part of it and instead maximize what it IS good at.  You CAN make the Support Refit a carrier, but why wouldn't you just use the Escort Frigate? You can fire some OK dice out the side, but wouldn't you rather improve the front arc?  (We'll get to HOW in a bit....)

Basic Usage
Follow Instructions
Point them towards the enemy and let them survive through strong shields and good commands and smart piloting (I will FULLY admit i do not always have this!).  With 3 shields and 2 brace tokens, you can take a lot of punishment on your front shields.  And with 5 health, an enemy would need to roll (somehow) 13 damage or 8 damage and 2 accuracies to take out your Neb B in one shot.  I'm sure it's not impossible (looking at you, AGAIN, Cymoon, Kuat, and Ravager SSD) but it's not easy at ALL.  Keeping things in your front arc (and only your front!) is not easy.  But with your RED dice battery, you don't want to be any closer than you need to anyways!  And if you can stay in long range (move slower than you think you should), your Evade defense token lets you cancel one die coming at you! Or even reroll it at medium range!

Their speed 2 chart isnt great, but their speed 3 chart is identical to an MC30 or CR90.  The issue being that those ships want to double arc while doing so here exposes your Nebulon to danger.  Your best and potentially strongest shot is concentrated in your face, which is also a lot more narrow than a CR90.  It's going to be a fine balancing act.  But when you need to get past a ship, that speed 3 chart can actually help you out some.  Just be careful you don't end in an arc that results in you taking a bunch of dice in the side!  As a Rebel, your job is to either NOT be in the arcs that cause you the most harm, or to be out of them before those ships can activate.  With that speed 3, given 2 clicks, you can turn relatively well, but you'll need to use ACTUAL nav commands to get it back in the fight.  The OTHER side of the Neb, the rear, has 2 shields.  Again, its not much, but it may be just enough to keep your ship alive, especially with the 2 brace tokens. If you aren't doing anything else necessary this turn, your default command should be Navigate.
We can file this under "Situations your Neb should hopefully NOT be in."
The Neb acts much like a old-time knight on horseback.  He is charging straight towards you, and he is a murder machine for anything directly in front of him.  If you can avoid him (or negate that front attack), the knight has a hard time turning and getting back into the fight.  Even with Nav commands, he still needs a few turns to get back into having his front arc in a viable arc for attacking.  Assuming the Neb spends turns 1 and 2 in the front arc of a ship (and realistically only getting to fire turn 2!), it won't be spun around again until turn 4 at the earliest!  By that time, much of the fighting will be done, and whatever ship you were trying to turn around and hit will have scooted across half the map by then.  Be aware of that, and try to stay as many turns in front of the enemy as possible.  When you have to bug out, do so, and try to stay alive as you run, throwing dice out your back.
I am not fast....
The fact that Nebs don't turn amazingly and have their best shields in the front and rear indicates another way of playing them.  Stay slow and let them come towards you, and then hop them and run.  Let your strong front and decent rear shields protect you as your similar dice deal damage.  The best way I can see of using the Neb is as a harassing sniper, applying pressure in a specific area and location of their ship.  If they turn away, concentrate fire and start wailing on them.  If they turn towards you, keep firing and either jump them if you can with a nav token or actual navving, or ram them until you or they die while the rest of your fleet helps out as well.

I see (and have done this myself, so you're in good company!) people start their Nebs waaaay too fast and then when they get shot early turn 3 and killed, they get sad.  Sadder if they moved from out of long range (where they didnt have a shot) turn 2 into close, black dice range turn 3, and the saddest if they never got a shot off.  If you're bringing the Salvation, I cannot agree harder with Shmitty and its use as a flanker/finisher.  Start it at speed 1, near the back of your deployment zone.  You're using it to finish off whatever is left of a ship after your others have evaporated the shields of it: you don't want to bring it in to attack until turn 3 or late turn 2, at the earliest.  The longer you can keep it out of battle, the better it is to bring a fresh ship in!  If you're bringing in a carrier (Hi Yavaris, we'll get to you in a minute), that's a different plan entirely.

Let's do some math together.  Yes, math is fun.  So a brace token halves the damage coming in.  Which means that 2x damage becomes x total.  When damage goes against a Nebulon's side, that's 1 against the shield and the remainder into the hull.  IF you can keep the Nebulon at long or medium range (re: NOT CLOSE), the Evade can remove or reroll dice.  So that can potentially even get rid of another damage or 2.  But because of the brace tokens, each point of damage that goes against the shields is really TWO points of damage (assuming you get to brace them).  Each point into the hull is TWO points into the hull, halved.  So when your opponent fires 4 damage into you, bracing it down takes it to 2, 1 into the shield and 1 into the hull.  So long as you keep moving shields around or restoring them, the Nebulon's 2 Brace tokens CAN keep you alive much longer than you think they would.  Shields to Maximum! or ships with Projection Experts (heck, potentially even other Nebulons!) to restore them help a LOT, as does including Auxiliary Shields Team to bring them up to 2 side shields.

My comment about the Knight earlier is more apt for the other way of playing the Neb, like a chess Knight.  You can either take out some important pieces and run, hopping over the ship you're shooting at as you flee, or you can just accept the fact that the Neb is going to die doing what it does.  IFFFFFF you can take out more points than its worth to kill something with it, than it's a good trade.  Piece trading, for all you chess monkeys out there.  Don't trade it for something that doesn't hurt the enemy's plans doing so, but the Neb trades up WONDERFULLY. 

There's 4 titles for Nebulons, and they all perform incredibly different functions with very different builds.

Swing, swing, swing, from the tangles of my heart...
The Salvation takes the killing power of the front arc of the Nebulon and turns it deadly.  You now have (effectively) 2 basic hit sides on the red dice and 3 DOUBLE hit sides, 2 of them Crit enabled.  With Opening Salvo or Commander Sato, black dice with Hit+Crits are 3 total damage coming from the front of your ship.  It doesn't improve the side or back arcs, and it doesn't improve the overall assumed crappiness of Red Dice (still got those 2 blank sides, and that accuracy) when you want pure damage.

When you decide to run this, you're going to need to determine what type of turbolaser you wish to run with it.  My suggestions are Spinal Turbolasers, Linked Turbolaser Towers, or Quad Battery Turrets, with all of these pushing towards different ways of running the ship.  The Turbolasers article breaks down the benefits of each of those choices.

I'll say that I often have a love/hate relationship with Salvation. Sometimes you'll spike and hit 10 damage! Sometimes you'll hit 2.  It's a gambling strategy, and it's all in how willing you are to BE that gambler. You'll remember the spikes on either end of the spectrum, but it should over time even out to be 5-6.  Theoretically.  The best advice I can offer you is to have a minimum of 1 and potentially at least 2 sources of reroll/dice fixing.  Intensify Firepower, Toryn Farr for your blue dice if Quad Battery Turrets, Linked Turbolaser Towers in general, with Leia or Garm.... more rerolls fixes more of those dice.  If I remember the math I did at one point, with 2 sources of rerolls/fixes, it tends towards ~4+ damage in the face, repeatedly.

I come in the core set!
The Theodore of the Alvin and the Chipmunks OG Neb titles (Salvation is the loud, brash Alvin, Yavaris is the thinking Simon), this one isn't used as much.  It can either be built as a repair bot, with Projection Experts and Raymus Antilles to keep restoring shields to your other ships, or you can build it as a General Nebulon Build (below) and let it just benefit your other ships from existing.  The Pelta does a better job of being that repair bot for slightly cheaper, especially with the Shields to Maximum! trigger as you can push 3 shields back onto a ship (1 from the Fleet Command, 2 from Projection Experts).  There's AN argument for the General Nebulon Build plan, but with the existence of Yavaris, it's hard to make an argument for including it as is, especially in a 400 point game.  There's another issue with it needing to be alive when your other ship does that engineering command and that extra point making a difference in the game, but all I can really say is that it's an exercise I'll leave to the reader.  It combines well with the MCEF titles, so this is a very crazy fleet we're building here.  It would excel in large point games, so if you're playing the Corellian Conflict or Sector Fleet, it's a solid addition.  The other issue of course, is that "not dying" isn't winning, so you'll still need to have some sort of plan that wins you the game.

No, no, it's van Guard.  It's Dutch.
The Vanguard is the newest Neb to join the party, and what a Neb we GOT.  Getting a redirect token and a Weapons Team slot, this "fixes" most people's issues with the Nebulon.

The first question, of course, is what do we replace, the Evade or a Brace token? It's up to you if being a Fake Assault Frigate with an Evade-Redirect-Brace is better/worse than a small Liberty with 2 Braces and a Redirect; it'll depend on how you fly it and how you plan on moving into and out of danger.  In general, replace a brace, but it's situational and YOU decide.

Now then, what Weapons Team? So MANY good options here, really.  There's a Ruthless Strategists Escort Neb with 2 dice of flak and a 3rd potential point of damage into whatever squadron you're attacking, there's a Gunnery Team version if you just want to double tap out the front at long range, there's a Flight Controllers version if you want a carrier, etc.  The way I look at the Vanguard is that it's the vanguard of my forces; leading them in and letting something else deliver the killing blow.  So if I want a carrier, have Yavaris coming in behind it pushing some squadrons after Vanguard clears the others out with Ruthless flak or Flight Controllers (it's also a great spot for Rex!).  If I want an initial punch for my forces, have Salvation or several hammerheads following up as well.

It pairs well with another Nebulon doing its job BETTER, so build and play accordingly.  Two Nebs in a fleet? Will wonders never cease.

Let's all thank Eric for the good scan!
Every Imperial Commander's darkest fear.  Motti wakes up in a pool of sweat that Keyan Farlander and 2 friends will get activated with an extra dice in his unshielded front arc.  This is one of the strongest titles in the game.  Squadrons getting to attack with an extra dice is effectively like adding a "ghostly" version of that squadron shooting a ship.  So if I have 3 Y-wings using this, it's effectively 30 more points attacking this turn, that has to be mitigated with defense tokens or just taking the damage.  If I have 3 B-wings, each one gets an extra dice, most likely resulting in 2 black and 1 blue.  I get three half ghost B-wings (my favorite Taking Back Sunday song) for a rough estimate of 4.5 B-wings (and most likely 3 blue dice and 6 black ones).

The title is so strong that just slapping Yavaris on a naked Nebulon is still a halfway decent call (I say, having gotten third at GenCon with it)!  The BEST way to improve on Yavaris is finding a way to get a squadron token on it, so you can activate a third squadron with it.  Every squadron you can command with Yavaris is a great squadron, but it gets most of its value from single dice bombers and those with powerful effects on attack.  It'd prefer being used for bombing ships, of course, but its anti-squadron attack isn't horrid either (5 points for pseudo-Flight Controllers is good!).  Getting a 7-dice shot from Wedge against an opposing squadron, having Ten Numb attack with 3 blue/1 black dice, rolling against an ISD with Nym rolling 2 blue dice..... Rebels have some GOOD uses for this ship.  If you're bringing a Nebulon, generally, it's the Yavaris.

The recent adjustment to its power level means that you're not going to be able to overload ship defense tokens as easily, but I promise the title is still worth it, just give it a chance.  The nerf (picture above) means that it's more in line with what a (completely barebones) 62 point ship should deliver for you.  It'll still punch above its weight, it just won't overclock everything for it.

FAQ NOTE: If a squadron attacks with the extra dice with the Yavaris title, it cannot resolve another effect to move this activation.  What this means: no using Fighter Coordination Teams to move after or before you super-shot.  You can move other squadrons, but not the ones that just added the extra dice (you can also bring FCTs on ANOTHER ship and move squads into position that way... what up, Pelta).  Is it still worth bringing FCTs on Yavaris then? How important is moving a squadron on another turn distance 1? B-wings want every chance you can give them to increase their speed, so I wouldn't turn down any methods you have of speeding them up.

Support Refit
Cheap but useful
This is the starting Nebulon, focused on shooting your opponent.  You REALLY shouldn't be commanding squadrons with this, but everything else is a pretty solid choice for a command here.  Follow my basic advice above with regards to usage and it'll trade up for sure.

General Nebulon Build (61 points)
Auxilliary Shields Team
Linked Turbolaser Turrets

This is basically the starter Nebulon that are the 2 main upgrades I'd add if I have the points.   LTTs steadies your dice, and using an Engineering command on your first turn lets you go from a 3-1-1-2 setup to a 3-2-2-1 (looking just like a Pelta!) from ASTs (so many acronyms!).  If you want to JUST include a Nebulon, no title, this is how I would do it.  However, adding those titles sure is nice, especially if you have the points.

Long Range Sniper (73 points)
Auxilliary Shields Team
Quad Battery Turrets
Intel Officer

This ship's job is to find the biggest, meanest target it can, and just start playing David vs Goliath.  Con Fire as much as you can, and keep targeting their Brace.  If they use it, it's gone forever, and the rest of your friends get to have a field day with it.  You may lose this ship, but it can easily help trade up for a 150 point ISD.  If you need the points, you can cut the ASTs, but hey, it keeps you alive, and you are NOT going to be having time to engineer often.  Keep firing and make them make hard decisions with your damage.  One huge spike may be enough.

Noisier Cricket (67 points)
Caitken and Shollan
Slaved Turrets

This build does one job, and it does it very well. It's the Neb version of the Arquitens Noisy Cricket build, without necessarily being tied to a concentrate-fire command a la Krennic.  You've got rerolls baked in already with C&S, but more dice is always helpful.  You're going towards your target, but this is a relatively self-contained ship that can just start laying on good damage at range.  A little over 5 on average, as Eric's math shows us.... It's also got a slightly easier time of staying relevant, so use that to your advantage on the Cricket.
It's escorting damage into your opponent's ships!
The Escort is more often seen, just based on the extra blue flak dice and ability to push more squadrons.  For 6 points more, it's an easy sell on anything that has to do with squadrons.  Use the flak to establish squadron dominance of your own, then start going to town with the Nebulons pushing them.

I Am Become Death, Destroyer of ISDs (72 points)
Flight Commander
Fighter Coordination Team
Heavy Fire Zone

This build pairs best with a '14 Chateau de B-wing Cabernet.  A saucy build, this... alright, the dumb food metaphor is over.  This is the bog standard Yavaris build*, and it is MEAN.  Flight Commander lets you command after you move, which, most importantly, is also after you flak.  So you can free up your squadrons that are engaged in order to get them bombing ships with the Yavaris super shot.  Fighter Coordination Team is still on here, even though thanks to the FAQ it doesn't let you move the squadrons in and THEN bomb, just because a free speed 1 move for 2 B-wings is worth 3 points.

*I included Heavy Fire Zone here just to force your opponent to close, but it's not usually taken on the ship.  If you're putting it on a Neb, I recommend the Escort as it's got more of a chance of getting SOMETHING with 2 flak dice (2 red dice and hope is A plan....).  You either get your opponent damaged at red range with no attacks back on your own squadrons/ships or they sail in and get beat up by your squadrons attacking in blue range, followed by your own flak.  It's a starter, and it helps if anyone is coming in to hit you this turn and you have to activate first.  Speaking of flak and hitting your opponent....

A Horse and His Draven (75/72 points)
General Draven
Ruthless Strategists
Linked Turbolaser Turrets/Heavy Fire Zone

This build is geared towards ensuring that whatever squadron comes IN to shoot you isn't making it OUT.  Draven is added for fun, but the regular 2 blue flak dice and the 2 extra from LTTs can make one squadron really sad.  If your opponent sends in squads that have counter, I definitely suggest adding in a red die from Draven and then rerolling it with LTTs.  Heck, potentially even add in the 2 more after that from LTTs and throw 5 dice at someone! THEN, you Ruthless them for ANOTHER damage.  Pair this one with Y-wings and just start churning through opposing squadrons.  The Y-wings can go to work on the remaining ships after that.  You can also use HFZ here as well; either they're getting damaged without retaliation at red range (plus a potential dice of whatever color you want with Draven!) or they're coming in and getting Ruthless'ed hard and melted with blue flak then.

Final Thoughts
It's not the easiest ship to pilot, but keep thinking of the Knight in chess.  Trade up with it to get the enemy Queen or Rook and you've got a good ship.  Don't move it past where it's able to attack from; let them come towards you as much as you can, and you'll be able to threaten well above your weight class with this ship.  Having a knight's shield (Engineering token) that you can put up when in danger (repairing your shield.... this metaphor is getting away from me!) helps a lot, too.  Get out of position with it and much like the knight in chess, it'll take you several movements to be threatening the same area/ship.  Keep this one threatening, but near the back, and you'll do great with it.
You've got two empty halves of coconut and you're bangin' 'em together!


  1. I was pretty successful using Redemption in a Double Liberty build with Projection Experts on Redemption and one of the Liberties, so the title does have some uses.

    1. Oo nice. I've debated a double LMC80 plan, but it scares me for when things get around the sides. How'd you deal with that? Mess of squadrons?

    2. A lot of repair commands. Redemption sends two shields, Second Liberty sends 2 more shields and a wounded Liberty repairs for 7 (two cards and shield move) or uses repair token for 3 (one card). The trick is to interleave repair ships activations with opponent carriers activations.

  2. The rear arc of a neb is underrated.

    Sure the knight cannot turn back into the fight. Dont turn! Shoot from the hip, i mean rear.

    1. It definitely is. I like spinals on mine for that reason, but sometimes OOF 9 points.

  3. Hi. I have 3 Nebulons and I am determined to get them all on the table. This article talks a lot about how to use them independently but I am interested in your thoughts and advice on how to run a list with a group of them. Is it a terrible idea?

    1. I've seen Salvation and Yavaris run well together but more than that usually requires 500 points. Nebulon-Bs do much better with titles, so simply spamming generic Nebulons at the moment feels a bit unwise, but the titles also require some building around and hence the expense. Plus there's not really (at the moment) a 'go to' Nebulon-B commander - they do all right with a few different commanders but nobody seems to really make a "spam Nebulons" approach work yet.

      I think commander Leia (coming out in wave 6) will help Nebulon-Bs in particular but that remains to be seen.

    2. I will say that someone won a tournament a weekend or two ago with Garm and like 6 Nebulons and 4 Z95s. Dont.... dont do that to start out, haha.

    3. 6 Nebulons?! That sounds utterly insane haha :D

      I've been thinking and so far this is the list I have put together, though it seems weak to LFC;

      Nebulon-B Support refit
      Mon Mothma
      Dual Turbolaser turrets

      Nebulon_B Escort refit
      Toryn Farr

      Nebulon_B Escort refit
      Turbolaser reroute Circuits

      Cr90 Corvette B
      Overload Pulse

      Cr90 Corvette B
      Overload Pulse

      Hera Sundulla
      Shara Bey
      Tycho Celchu
      A-wing squadron
      A-wing squadron

      Opening salve
      Fleet ambush
      Dangerous Territory

    4. I wouldn't overload pulse, but so far seems alright? Maybe sw7s? Can you get a flotilla in there to increase your fighter coverage? Maybe cut a cr90 for it and some other fighters?

    5. Why not Support Refit on the Salvation, given it's going to be shooting ships most of the time? Also why Yavaris when you're going a bit lighter on squadrons overall and effectively 3 of them will be rogues?

      I'm also not a fan of Overload Pulse, especially on CR90Bs. SW7s are very good on CR90Bs and if you'd like to go for more of a "long ranged harassment" fleet I'd consider CR90As if you can find the points. Especially with Opening Salvo.

      In terms of objectives, they look okay with the exception of Fleet Ambush, which can be used against you by shorter-ranged ships that want to rush your long-ranged ships early on. I'd recommend changing it out.

  4. Alright, thanks a lot guys. I'll make some adjustments! :)
    Haven't used overload pulse before, I thought it sounded like it might of worked, the CR90's rush in from the flanks and disable ships and the Nebulons could focus the disabled ships down.

  5. Oh my mistake the salvation is support refit, not escort.

  6. My apologies, I'm missing something here. You say:

    "...FCT lets you move that squadron that wasnt engaged with a ship or squadron into engagement.... so then it can fire TWICE because of the Yavaris ability. But this only works because FCT happens AFTER you move. Flight Commander ALSO triggers after. So you get to move things in and then shoot them twice."

    But doesn't Yavaris specifically say:
    "Each squadron you activate can attack twice IF IT DOES NOT MOVE"

    In your example above, haven't the squadrons moved, regardless of how?

    You've gone into really great detail here, so again, my apologies for not understanding.

    1. Yavaris is concerned only about squadrons moving or not during its squadron command. It's rather strong in combination with Fighter Coordination Team and I wouldn't be surprised if that's eventually errataed.

    2. Ahhh. I missed the fact that the command dial matters in this case. Thanks for the explanation!

  7. I had a couple ideas I was throwing around the other day, and I'm curious what your thoughts are on them.

    First, running LFC on Vanguard. Obviously a two red Salvo is rocking for a small ship, especially with LTT, but with the Redirect from Vanguard, you're either paying eight points for a four-point upgrade, or ditching one of your other tokens (probably the Evade). Do you think that's a worthy trade-off, or will losing a damage-mitigating token be too much of a hazard?

    Second, running Salvation with TRC and officer Agate. Do the benefits of Intel Officer outweigh the dice control?

    1. I'm sure John will be in shortly with his own answers, but my take is:

      #1 I don't dislike the idea of running Local Fire Control on a Vanguard Neb-B but the costs associated to get there (a title and the weapon team and swapping a defense token) feel too high to me. I agree that a 2-red-die salvo is pretty sweet from a cheap-ish ship, especially with the Linked Turbolaser Tower reroll but I'm not sure I'd go for it. Especially given it takes your Vanguard defense token suite (double brace redirect or brace+redirect+evade), which is pretty good, to something a lot more fragile, which can be an issue on a ship with fragile sides as it is.

      #2 Officer Agate is an interesting idea on that build to take your guaranteed crit and use it to refresh the evade you exhausted to get said guaranteed crit. Giving up Intel Officer hurts so long as you're not ganging up on whatever Salvation is going after, so I suppose it depends on the rest of your fleet and how much pressure you expect to put on enemy defense tokens.

    2. LFC Vanguard seems ok, kinda like a cheaper Assault Frigate that you can outfit for roughly the cost OF a naked Assault Frigate. If that's worth it, go for it? I'd add in Auxiliary Shield Teams and all here, but again, you're turning a Neb into an Assault Frigate, which.... why not just use the Assault Frigate and ECMs?

      As for the Salvation TRC/Agate idea, I'm very intrigued, but I'm also VERY cheap with my Salvation builds these days (title, done, let Garm or Leia fix it as needed). I don't hate the idea, but it's still 12 points on a chassis that is not terribly long for the world. I don't hate it, though, so if you do try it, please let me know!