Thursday, December 10, 2020

Squadrons Encyclopedia 2: Small Fighter Coverage

Let's begin with one of the easier ones to define and use: Small Fighter Coverage.
It helps when you make the Pew Pew Pew noises, the dice roll better.
Before I begin, this looks very much like a combination of several of the OLD Small Fighter Coverage articles, but I've edited, added, and updated several parts of this. Ahhh, I once thought Z95s would work well enough as a support squadron that you could get something out of them! Memories.... This is also the conglomeration of EVERYTHING related to the Small Fighter Coverage group, so it's a LONG article.  Get comfy.

I. Purpose and Definition
The Small Fighter Coverage (SFC) group exists to provide you with A fighter coverage group.  They're here for several roles:

1) Deployment help
2) Keeping the other guy honest
3) Fighting off enemy squadrons and squadron blobs for as long as possible.
4) Supportive damage into ships.

Let's analyze each of these roles individually.

1) Deployment Help
To quote Eric's deployment article directly here;

You're usually spending less points on a deployment of two squadrons than you are on the deployment of one ship. Squadrons are also much more forgiving when their deployment is a bit off due to how maneuverable they are. Deploy a ship wrong and you may struggle to get it to maneuver to someplace meaningful before the late game. Deploy a squadron wrong and at worst you're one turn behind where it wanted to be, which is not great but not terrible either.

So in short, squadrons are less vulnerable to bad deployments than ships and are usually a less expensive deployment than ships, which means you're revealing less of your total force early on and you're better able to recover if subsequent deployments change the battle lines a bit more than you were expecting.

For more on good deployment, I'll re-link to this article of Eric's about good deployment, which I know I PERSONALLY should go back and read, that's how helpful it is.

2) Keeping the Other Guy Honest
This is going to tie into 3, but by having SOME squadron presence, you force the other guy to attack your squadrons before they start hitting your ship.  Assuming only movement happens on turn 1 (I have destroyed a Raider turn 1 once, with B-wings), that's 5 more turns of combat for starfighters.  Every turn they spend hitting other squadrons is a turn they don't spend hitting your ships.  And as we discussed literally last paragraph, your fleet of warships and flotillas would rather not be taking added damage from bombers and enemy fighters.  If all you do is throw in Tycho and Shara, that's still 2 aces they have to both fight and engage or let them run roughshod over their squadron list.  I'll state several times throughout here that the goal of SFC is not necessarily to win the squadron war, but to delay the enemy as long as possible.  Every turn they're shooting Tycho or one of your X-wings is a turn they're not bombing your ships, no matter what their armament.  Even if all your opponent brought was 6 Z95 Headhunters, do you want a potential 12 damage coming in to your ships because you didn't send an A-wing to engage them all? No.

I wrote Chapter 6, "Fighting Squadron Heavy Fleets and Running Squadronless" in July 2018, and I worry that several people took that as a lesson that running without squadrons was both easy and recommended.  This wasn't really helped by FFG not having restocked the Squadrons 1 packs in... many months (significant side-eyes at FFG).
As I go back and look at these articles every time, my love of Leia gets more and more pronounced
But if you're new at this game, you NEED to run squadrons.  I'm sorry to be that blunt, and I understand the fiddliness of the squadrons game and how it isn't easy to get and you get steam-rolled, but it's VITALLY important that you understand this aspect of the game.  Otherwise you're just going to get rolled by a Large Fighter Coverage group and not understand WHY it happened beyond "the squadrons hit me and then I died."  I've included a few groups in the links that are often for starting out players, but there's also groups in there to help even experienced players provide themselves a good reason to take squadrons.

3) Fighting off enemy squadrons and squadron blobs for as long as possible
As I said, this ties into 2.  You're not trying to win the battle.  You are trying to engage the opponent's squadrons and keep them from hitting your ships.  If it costs you your 50-60 points of squadrons to do it, but prevents most of their squadrons from hitting you, great! You won that battle.  The standard LFC isn't just the squadrons, but their upgrades as well.  You're not going to prevent the LFC from hitting your ships the whole game, but if you can prevent them from hitting you all the same turn, your defense tokens won't get overwhelmed and your ships (hopefully) won't die.  This will require some work on your part, and it won't be easy.  But we'll get to that!

The other benefit is that every point of squadrons you kill of theirs is both points for you at the end of the game AND points that aren't hitting your ships! It's a double win! And if you kill the RIGHT squadrons (Morna Kee, Ten Numb, Luke Skywalker!) you can SIGNIFICANTLY reduce the killing power of their squadron ball.  This may not be the EASIEST plan, of course, but it may be VERY much worth it if you can pull it off.
That's Ten Numb right there.... next to his Escort.  Of course.
4) Supportive damage into ships
The benefit of Rebel squadrons is that you pay a little more for them in order to get valid anti-ship armaments on them.  If/when you beat the enemy squadrons, you'll be able to launch your squadrons at the enemy ships and then provide some of your own damage at them.  X-wings don't have the BEST bomber support system (3/8 sides being effectively meaningless), but every damage you add is helpful.  This ties back into 2, because if your opponent didn't bring any squadrons to support his ships, then you get to go right into hitting his ships! Teach him the lesson that you learned about bringing squadrons!
All-range mode! Wait, that's Star Fox....
If you're an Imperial.... welllllllll.... it's a bit trickier.  I'll let Eric take over:
Almost all Imperial squadrons are much more focused on their specific role than Rebel fighters are - TIE Fighters are some of the best 8 points you can spend on just killing other squadrons, but they're absolutely miserable at everything else. A Rebel fighter-focused squadron can drop enemy squadrons and then later on move over to throwing some mediocre bombs at ships (for example, see the Rebel X-Wings and A-Wings for what I mean). Busted-up TIE Fighters with their worst-in-the-game anti-ship attacks aren't going to do much damage to ships and with 3 hull run the real risk of getting dropped by flak, especially if they've already taken some hull damage during earlier dogfighting.

That clearly presents some issues, but it can be beneficial when your core concern is keeping enemy squadrons off your ships, as you're buying more anti-starfighter muscle for the points than Rebels are bringing through virtue of specialization. With the increasing prevalence of no-squadron fleets, even in a small fighter coverage group, you should still try to bring along a squad or two to punish an opponent who didn't bring any squads for your fighters to go after too. Typically this will be a support squadron and/or a self-sufficient bomber squadron or two. We'll cover some examples of this later on.
When it comes to this smaller 70 points-and-below bracket, it's not difficult to bring along Gozantis and/or use your native Squadron values to command 4-6 squadrons when necessary. That makes Rogues for the most part unnecessary at this level and furthermore, generic Imperial Rogues are generally terrible and I don't recommend bringing them at all. It also makes generic TIE Defenders unnecessary here because you can bring a larger team of specialist generics and/or a roughly equivalent number of aces for what 4 Defenders would run you. Defenders will show up more when you've got more points to put into squadrons, but at this level I'd leave them at home.
Back to John, but I'll be back later when we're covering Imperial example groups!

So your (Rebel) small fighter coverage has some teeth to it.  Let's talk about what you want to look for in your fighters here, and then discuss some potential groups you COULD use as your SFC.

II. What You Want
Your SFC group should be fighters primarily.  You want fast, hard hitting, and health.  Any times you can get counter (that's actually worth it!) are a bonus, as is any other abilities your aces provide.  For fast, you want speed 3+.  B-wings and YT-1300s at speed 2 are not fast enough to engage enemy fighters before they start hitting you, so I'd avoid them here.  They make appearances later in the Large Fighter Coverage.  We'll get there.  For hard hitting, you want a MINIMUM of 3 blue dice.  Y-wings are great, but they do not do enough damage to stop enemy squadrons before they can hit you and yours.  And health.  Luckily, as a Rebel player, your minimum health is better than expected, but this also means that you can't just take 4-6 Z95s and call it good enough (in my opinion).

One thing I'll say about all the squadron choices is that whichever one you pick, you want to be able to trigger all your squadron activations on the same round if necessary.  Don't take a 6 squadron group one if your ships max out at squadrons 1-2, as that's not a great use of their abilities.  Having to use a CR90 turn 2 to push that 6th A-wing so it can do something this turn isn't an amazing use of either one's abilities.  Don't NECESSARILY take 4 Rogues if you're bringing a 4 squadron ship in your fleet, as turn 2 that could be 4 A-wings flung forwards as well (it can also be 4 Rogues, but then we circle back to the Squadron Commanded Rogue argument again).  We'll get into this.  But now let's talk Leverage.

This topic is going to relate, I promise.
Leverage was a show that ran on TNT a few years back that I enjoyed watching.  In the show, a group of thieves ran heists and stole from even worse people as a way for the Little Guy to get Revenge (side note: I have spent the last month or so rewatching it.  Be prepared for next month's discussion about how properly building a Rebel force is just like Community!)  In one episode, Nate (the main guy in charge, played by Timothy Hutton) is talking to someone else who's trying to run a con.
Nate: You never count on the perfect plan. The perfect plan, it has too many moving parts, and it's... you got to expect the perfect plan to fail. I mean, that's what I do.
Hardison: Then what do you count on?
Nate: I count on the simplest and ugliest plan, not plan "A," no, but, like, plan "G," for example. I start with plan "G." Now, the quick, simple, ugly plan that I know is gonna work if everything goes bad.
So what does that have to do with us and using fighters? It means that I'm not planning on giving you every aspect of every potential outcome and fighter squad you expect to see (the intense whittling down of this article shows THAT).  I'm going to give you the basic plan for dealing with your opponent's squadrons, and we'll go from there.  For our SFC group as pictures and examples, I'll be using some of the groups linked above.  The examples and thoughts are similar across the board though.

Because we're running Rebel, who are we playing against today? That's right, Imperial mooks (if you wanted Imperials fighting Rebels, get Eric to write the article)!  If you have questions about any specific interactions or anything I've missed, please let me know.  Clones and Separatists are similar enough in their interactions that these examples apply here as well.  With all that being said, let's move on to ACTUALLY using them! Round One, FIGHT!
III: How to Use
1) Squadrons activated by squadron commands > Rogue squadrons > Unactivated regular squadrons

Above is what I've termed the First Law of Squadron Combat.  Unlike ships, you have to ACTIVATE your non-Rogue squadrons to get them to DO things during the game.  Your opponent may oblige and just bellyflop onto your B-wings, in which case you should thank him for helping you, but in all other cases, if you're not activating and moving your squadrons, you're going to get jumped and you're going to get shot.  You'll be stuck waiting until the Squadron phase to do damage, and that's not ideal, as you may not survive that long.  If you don't have Rogues, you're also NOT moving from that spot on the table, so you'll get jumped again NEXT turn!

You don't need to be pushing your SFC every turn, but on the crucial turn where you're trying to jump someone (or having BEEN jumped, the turn you fight your way out!  You CAN still move after shooting with a squadron command, so long as you're not currently engaged), you NEED to command them.  You may even need to command EVERYONE (Rogues included) on that crucial turn, if it gets you the kills/lockdown you needed.  I've seen the finest minds squadrons of my generation thrown away when their Commander just threw them into the fray on the turn before the squadron jump (handwavey, turns 2 or 3) and never gave them a Command again.  I know that using Squadron Commands is "scary" and "dumb because the rules are dumb and don't make sense to me, in this game where I push my plastic spaceships around, grump grump grump", but here we are.  Use a Squadron Command, push them around.
And I will! And I will!
Even Wedge needed Admiral Ackbar to tell them to go into and blow up the second Death Star.  So you need to push your squadrons.  I keep harping on this because I've seen numerous people forget to do it, leading to losing those squadrons unnecessarily.  "This squadron isn't good because it died when I let it get shot 17 times and never commanded it" isn't something you hear someone admit, but it IS something you see.  This starts in the listbuilding phase, and continues during the game.  You should be thinking about when you're going to command your squadrons during the game and with what ships, and that will help you with the next step.

2) Measure and Visualize your ranges
Before the game begins, go around to your opponent's side of the table and see what he's bringing and their general speeds, and if there's any way to increase those (FCT, All Fighters Follow Me, etc).  You know the speed of your opponent's squadrons; it's printed on their card.  With a good eye for estimation (and the use of the range ruler at any time!), you can see roughly where they can land their squadrons, and WHERE THEY CAN ATTACK FROM (and who can command them!).  In short, if those TIEs are speed 4 and have the chance to hit you with the alpha strike, be a little more than speed 5 away.  That way, they can't jump you as quickly.  The flip side to this is that you ALSO wouldn't be attacking next turn, as they'd be too far away from you!  What do you do about this?

Aim to be in a place where they might START to hit you, with SOME fighters, but hopefully they can't ALL get there, and remember that Range 1 is the longest range.  Easier to see below, with the rings centered around Jan Ors in the lower right.
Example 1: I'll reference this later
Based on the range rings, those TIE fighters are going to be able to hit SOME of those X-wings, but not ALL the TIE fighters can hit all the X-wings (you don't want all your squadrons wiped out in the first pass).  So you're going to get to counter-attack somewhat (with whatever you have left).  Based on your opponent's speeds and your speeds, you'll know whether you're going to need to deal with accepting some damage or if you'll actually be the one jumping your opponent (in general, if you can get the alpha on your opponent, do so, as they will hopefully not have enough dudes left to shoot YOU if they're already DEAD).  If your opponent's squadrons are faster than your own, they will jump you.  If you're on equivalent speeds (B-wings vs YV-666s, for example, or TIEs vs YT-2400s) it may come down to who can activate them first (ie, first player vs second, Rogue vs non-Rogue) or who moves into range first.

Related to this point, if you know you CAN get the jump on enemy squadrons (going first, better or equivalent range), make sure you're ending up in striking distance at the end of the turn before you're going to fire off your squadrons.  Nothing sadder than either being out of range to attack OR being out of range to be commanded.  This comes from knowing your ships and where Medium range is from them FOR commanding your own squadrons (which you can measure at ANY time, like, say, the end of the round for where to move them to?).  If you're going sideways with your Assault Frigate, your squadrons should go sideways as well.

3) When attacking enemy squadrons, one dead squadron beats 2 mostly injured ones
Relatively straightforward, if you have 6 TIE fighters attacking you, that's a potential 18 blue dice (with swarm, yes).  If you cut that down to 5 or 4 TIE fighters, that's 15/12 only. Act like a lion on the Serengeti and hunt down the wounded and kill them, as that's much less dice coming at you next turn/next attack.  This holds true even for things with Counter, like Interceptors.  Dead enemy squadrons are the BEST enemy squadrons.  Beat them up, be the bully.

Gimme your 8 points, TIE nerd!
All that sounds super easy and cool, but what do you do when you get jumped, like I said Jan and those X-wings will be?  What happens when you get in the below situation?
Things look bad for our intrepid heroes!
Well, let's zoom out in the picture of them getting jumped and show a little something else here.
The Frigate was doing John Cena's handwave, that's why you didn't see it.  Not because of the way I framed the picture, nope!
That's right, they were hiding near an Assault Frigate THIS WHOLE TIME! Yes, much like Eric mentioned in his Raider article, staying in close lets you flak enemy squadrons.  In fact, that's so important it gets its own point here!

4) Use your flak shots to HELP damage enemy squadrons when you can.
This point is going to be more important as we go along, but the basic gist is this: everything you kill of your opponent's helps your final score.  8 points of TIE fighter may be enough to get you the victory you need/deserve.  It may or may not be a priority, but if you CAN take the shot and it will help you kill them, take it! Nebulon side arcs, Assault Frigates with Gunnery Team, MC80s with Advanced Gunnery, etc.  Heck, sometimes it might make more sense to take a shot at the squadrons with your flak instead of taking your regular shot! (Cracken's Bright Hope at long range with 2-3 red versus flakking 4 squads, for example)

The related point to this, is for your flak to be worth it, you need to work WITH your squadrons to get it.  The reason I say "HELP" is that basic flak won't kill enemy squadrons on their own, especially not Aces with multiple tokens.  MOST of the time, you'll do only 1-2 damage from flak.  That puts a heck of a hurting on TIE fighters, and it dings TIE bombers and makes Maarek Stele laugh.  You'll need your squadrons to help you finish them off, and if there's one thing Rebel fighters love jumping on, it's wounded squadrons.  It's a lot easier for your squadrons to kill damaged squadrons (you can't roll 4 Hits on 4 blue dice EVERY time!), which frees them up next turn to attack MORE squadrons.  It may not always work, but some damaged squadrons beats all healthy ones, as you can more likely finish off the damaged ones with your squadron rolls.  Damaged squadrons also then need to decide to stick around or leave, which keeps you generally more alive.

The OTHER benefit to staying close with your own squadrons is that it forces your enemy into 2 choices.  They can either come in close to attack your squadrons with theirs (and get flakked!), or YOU can get the jump on THEM by attacking first when you activate YOUR squadrons (move out of the bunker!).  It's a complicated dance (So, you want to move in close enough to be able to attack them next turn, but you ALSO want to be able to make sure they can't attack you, except if they CAN attack you they have to get flakked in response to doing so?  Should I do this in a formal gown, too?) but with some practice, it's very doable.  Imps have it easier, in that Raider flak is basically the devil, but a lot of Rebel ships have blue range flak... along with great side arcs.  The game is 6 turns, and while it's great to get in there early and hit your opponent's stuff faster, giving it a turn or two for the situation to develop only helps (and is something I constantly need to remind myself, haha!).  You'll need to figure out WHERE to place yourself in order to figure out the best flakking option for you while still getting decent shots from your ships to their ships.  This will come down to where your opponent's squadrons are, speed, command, etc etc.  The basic point is, flak helps.
Sometimes I even amaze myself!
So let's say you are going to jump him.  How do you know who to attack?  Or when to move into range? Well, there's 2 schools of thought here.

5A) Move in as a group and engage one side of the squadron ball
There's a lot of caveats and "Yes, and-" and "But make sure to-" with this statement.  We'll cover it below after I tell you what the other type of attacking and engaging is.

5B) Send in your fighters to engage different sides of the squadron ball, and try to have them meet in the middle.
This is one usually built more for extended coverage, and trying to hold up the squadron ball as much as possible.  Let's break down each of these.

5A) With SFC vs SFC, you're trying to gain an upper hand you can exploit and use to push over the enemy fighter ball.  The other guy hasn't brought a significant number of fighters, but enough to "Keep you honest." (Props to whoever wrote that before, go that guy!)  You're trying to stay alive long enough to win out on the points you invested in this.  When you engage the squadron ball, concentrate your fire to remove squadrons as fast as possible (remember point 2 above!). Remember Example 1 several pictures above?
The Red X's stand for the 2 I overlapped my attacks on.  Each squadron can be hit by 2 different X-wings
The X-wings have all moved in and are able to hit those 2 close TIE squadrons.  If they can kill 1 (teaming up!) and either luck into killing the other or injure it enough that a future flak shot could kill it (or even future shots from my own squadrons!), that's a great start.  You might even be able to hit a third one! (Do not count on this).  You're turning off more swarm abilities, which means less damage coming in to your X-wings.  FURTHERMORE, each time you kill one, you're forcing your opponent to use his squadron commands on OTHER squadrons that may or may not be in range.  Hitting one side of the bubble lets you team up on killing things and makes sure you're blowing up enemy squadrons fast.  Overwhelm those with defense tokens (Tycho can't scatter EVERYTHING!) and you ensure that your damage counts.  I'd much rather roll 2 extra damage I DIDN'T need THIS turn to kill something than hope to roll the 2 I need NEXT turn to HOPE to kill it.

Side notes about fighting and squadron commands: if your enemy is relying on a Lambda-class shuttle providing Relay 2 to their ships, the first thing you want to hit is that Relay shuttle (so they can't Relay commands any more!  If you devoted all your squadron attacks to killing that Lambda but then he can't attack outside the squadron phase, that's a great use of your squadron dial).  If you see that one side of the squadron ball is in command range and one is not, go for the one that is in Command Range, so his friends can't come in and help him this turn.  Again, be the bully.  Pick on the weaker squadrons and separate them from the herd.  Prevent him from following the First Law (point 2 above), and watch him explode.

5B) Engaging different sides of the squadron bubble for fun and profit!

The other idea here, and this works usually better if you can get the jump on the enemy squadrons, is to lock them in place by engaging 1, maybe 2 squadrons, around the bubble in order to ensure that they can't go anywhere.  When your opponent has Intel (we'll get there in a minute...), this doesn't work as much, but when they don't, you lock down several of their squadrons from moving.  See below:
Engaging one TIE each
This looks remarkably similar to how I had the TIEs jump the X-wings above (it's like I knew what I was going to be writing!)  By only engaging ONE (or two) squadrons each, those TIE squadrons can only return fire at the ONE squadron engaging them.  Blue dice aren't perfect, and it's much more difficult for 2 TIEs per turn to roll perfectly and kill your YT-2400 (it has happened to me, though, so do be careful about recklessly engaging 2 squadrons with every YT2400 you bring).  The beauty of this plan is that it lets you lock the squadrons in place in an area, hopefully preventing them from moving.  Anything not engaged CAN move away from you, but then it'll be off on its lonesome, unable to do as much damage as if it had been working with other squadrons.
I'm adding this in just to show the YT-2400s can do plan 5A too.  Hit the red ones first to turn off swarm from the green.
So which plan do you use?  The first plan (5A), works better with things that want to work well together.  Jan Ors, Biggs, things with swarm like Z95s, anything that doesn't have the dice to kill the opponent's ship in one shot (TIE bombers have ALL the health!).  The second plan (5B) works better when you have individually more health than your opponent's ability to roll dice, and the anti-squadron damage they're putting out isn't great, or when you need to lock them down/in place.  This will make a lot more sense below.  The first plan sacrifices the ability to lock down a group for the ability to damage/kill squadrons, while the second ensures that the area is secure and no one is leaving, but it'll take time to chew through those squadrons.  It's really a matter of if you're trying to blow through them and are willing to take damage from Counter or their attacks or whatever, or if you want to stop them from moving as much as possible.

From this point in either 5A or 5B, you can either keep commanding squadrons (if you have the range) or let them fight the ball as best as they can, and then move to deal with issues as needed.  You don't need to be throwing squadron commands every turn, necessarily (especially if you aren't in range!) but it's worth considering doing if you're not doing anything better.  When you mop up their squadrons, use them to start hitting ships OR go put them on the station to heal.  Yeah, that X-wing may not have done the 1-2 health needed to kill that ISD a turn sooner.  It also didn't get flakked to death by that same ISD.  Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em when you're chasing ship damage.
Never gamble with Scooter, he cheats.  I know from experience.
As you move up into fighting bigger groups with your squadrons, the rules stay basically the same, mostly.  If you can put a solid hurting on any enemy that plans on attacking you later, AND you think your ships can survive an attack from them....

Please note: I am not advocating leaving squadrons half damaged to attack with your ships later, assuming your flak will take them out.  What I AM advocating, is below.
Yeah, this looks survivable!
In this specific example, assuming you're getting to roll against these Defenders, I would say that I can see the reasons why you would first attack that 6 health one.  Depending on your first roll, you may want to attack it again or finish off the 2 HP or the 1 HP one.  And I can also see the reasoning behind rolling on 2 injured Defenders, as well.  The only reason I'm making the "Leave the injured alive" case is because you KNOW the Defenders will be coming to attack you later in the game (6 TIE fighters and a Lambda shuttle probably won't).  Soften them up so your ships can flak them to death or have a CHANCE of flakking them to death.  I am not stating this is the best case, nor will it be sure to result in their death.  The ONLY reason I'm making this case is specifically because you can likely kill THESE SPECIFIC damaged Defenders with flak, excepting the 6 health one.  If all you have left is an undamaged MC80, I can fully see why you would attack the uninjured one.  If your ships are very near death, themselves, however, I can also see the benefit of hitting those 2 Defenders with 2 HP each.  It's going to come down to The Game State, and I can't tell you unless I'm standing there.
However, the Force will be with you, always, from a certain point of view.
If you end up fighting against the LFC, I'm going to add in one last point that I've been dancing around for a bit.
6) Always remember that the main goal of the SFC is to occupy enemy squadrons as long as possible, potentially even at the cost of their own lives.
The LFC is going to, if it desires, kill you and move on to your ships as fast as it can.  Your goal is not to survive, not to keep your squadrons alive.  Your goal is to delay them and keep their ability to hurt your ships from triggering.
Well you ARE!
The longer you hang on, the longer you're preventing MORE damage from going into your ships.  You spent a smallish number of points on squadrons to "purchase" other ships.  Your opponent spent 130-odd points and upgrades and the ability to push those squadrons towards your ships, and he's going to get to do that somewhat.  You don't get mad that the ISD rolls towards you and shoots up your Assault Frigate, that's what ISDs do.

Similarly, don't get mad when a bunch of bombers show up and start hitting your ships.  That's what bombers DO.  Your goal here is to ensure that the bombers need to do work to actually damage you, and any bomber attack that comes at your squadrons is one that's NOT hitting your ships.  You're going to lose most if not all your squadrons, but if you play it cagey and smart, you can prevent them from hitting your important ships as long as possible.

Follow most of the rules above (and the last one below), and you can hopefully get through this with minimal damage.  You'll lose a ship or two, but if you're careful and smart, you won't lose everything.  The rules are all the same as above, with a slight recommendation of HOW to fight this (Call it 5C)

5C) Given the choice, focus fire on the most important lynchpin squadrons FIRST.
If given the option to shoot between 3 generic TIE fighters and Mauler Mithel, who do you shoot first? The Intel allowing him to move, of course.  If Mauler moves (with Intel) he can damage any squadron he lands, so don't let him move by killing Dengar.  You'll want him dead afterwards.  You want Maarek Stele dead too.  Oh, and don't forget Morna Kee and Morello Eval, or Howlrunner if it's a Sloane ball.  And then if you're facing Rebels, Ten Numb, Wedge, Dutch, Hera, Lando, ALL need to die.  And Jan, don't want them all harassing my ships.  Dash and Ketsu are mean too.....

The point is, you can't say SPECIFICALLY what needs to die of your opponent's squads beyond "all of them" as that doesn't MEAN anything.  Right off the top of my head, Ten Numb and Maarek Stele are the two most important squadrons, just because they're both SOLID against squadrons and ships identically, but it's really (as I've said a few times) all about the game state.  If you have a defensive group and CAN kill Dengar, locking down the entire Imperial squadball until they kill you, obviously do that.  If Maarek Stele has stuck his neck out too far, go for that.  It may even just be that you're stuck waiting and picking off piddly squads that come at you, but again, game state.  I'm not about to make a list with the top 10 most hated Rebel/Imperial squadrons (Numb Ten Will Surprise You!), specifically because it's not worth either of our time.  Anything that can do significant damage to ships AFTER your squadrons are dead is basically what needs to die.

With the Escorts that you're going to have to fight through, you may not be able to HIT Dengar/Jan or Maarek or whoever.  You may want to focus your fire on whatever heavy bombers are following up afterwards in that case to try to prevent as much damage from hitting your ships as you can.  You're going to lose a ship.  That's almost guaranteed, and I'm sorry.  I know whatever you lost, it was your favorite ship that got you into Armada and it dying proves that squadrons are broken, etc etc.  But look at it this way: your opponent had to spend 2-3 ships of activations and support to get that whole mess into a state of extreme murder and had the ability to kill anything.  If you had a way of turning off those abilities, your ships will survive longer.  To reuse that dumb Zapp Brannigan quote, "If we can hit that bullseye (their carriers), the rest of the dominoes (their list) will fall like a house of cards.... checkmate."  Who'd have thought that quote was actually useful for once?  Take out their ability to PUSH squadrons, and you've got a good chance of killing the list.  Use YOUR squadrons to hold up their ability to hit you back with those squadrons.
IV: Final Thoughts
I realize that saying "Practice makes perfect" is an easy out for this, but I promise you with time, you'll be able to command the SFC effectively and minimize the damage being done to you by squadrons and squadron commanders. A final note here: when you bring an SFC group and play it against an opponent, after the game is over, talk to your opponent and discuss what worked, what didn't, what could be improved, etc.  A LOT of the Squadrons Mini-game comes down to getting good with squadrons and understanding all of their uses, abilities, upgrades, and what specific squadrons you brought to use.  A GOOD opponent may beat you in the squadrons mini-game, but a GREAT opponent will take time after (maybe even during if it's not a tournament!) the game and help you improve with suggestions and ways to get better.  Be excellent to each other, dudes.


  1. "Numb Ten Will Surprise You!" absolutely killed me. Got into the game recently and really enjoying the articles!

  2. Man, thank you so much for this!!
    "Be excellent to each other, dudes"!!! who would have thought than you would find so meaningful advise in a game blog??!!!
    And i mean it! Big Tx from France amigo; your blog is no joke!
    Live long and prosper ;)