Thursday, March 16, 2017

Armada objectives: blue objectives, wave one

Okay, we're done with our wave six spoiler screaming and let's get back to the blue (navigation) objective cards!
Dangerous Territory
  •  The only modification for obstacle deployment is on the long edges (the player edges). This means obstacles must be placed at least distance 5 from each edge, otherwise they obey the regular rules of obstacle placement.
  • The objective tokens go on the obstacles, so if the obstacles are moved by Grav Shift Reroute, the tokens go with them (is the current understanding of how that works).
    • Per the most recent FAQ, Strategic squadrons can move tokens off of obstacles. If they do, those tokens can't be picked up by a ship unless they're moved onto an obstacle again (could be the original obstacle or a new obstacle, either way).
  • Note that the second player's ships can still benefit from overlapping the space station. Only the asteroid field and debris field obstacles no longer have an effect on the second player's ships.
    • Because the second player deploys the first obstacle, the first deployed obstacle should always be the space station. This is done to deny the first player the option of deploying a nearby obstacle that won't hurt his ships when grabbing an objective token from it.
What kind of fleets should consider bringing Dangerous Territory?
Dangerous Territory is useful for an aggressive type of fleet, as you want to be able to grab your tokens early and threaten to snag any unclaimed tokens from your opponent's side of the table too. Fleets with numerous smaller faster ships make this threat more legitimate. Fleets with larger ships moreso enjoy the ability to not need to worry about obstacles so much, as they can get snagged on them from time to time and maneuvering around them at the very least is inconvenient. I would strongly recommend at least one small fast ship if you're taking Dangerous Territory as some opponents like to hide their obstacles around the back edges (as they don't intend to grab the tokens themselves and just want to inconvenience you). Being able to snag two tokens with a cheap fast ship can be worthwhile if you can spare that ship later in the game.

Fleets using Grav Shift Reroute (currently available only to the Imperial Interdictor) can have a fun time with Dangerous Territory by yanking enemy obstacles closer to their side of the table, which can set the Interdictor's fleet up to score a lot of points unless the first player gets very reckless about charging into damaging obstacles to grab those tokens ASAP, which is its own benefit to the second player.

What kind of enemy fleets are disadvantaged by playing Dangerous Territory?
Carrier fleets don't much care for Dangerous Territory as it forces them to compete for the obstacles closer to the middle of the table faster than they'd sometimes like and they're typically lighter on hull than more generic fleets (as they've spent less on ships and more on squadrons) and so even less keen on eating asteroids to contest you on objective points. Perhaps even more importantly, you can hide your own ships quite conveniently in obstacles to obstruct attacks from bombers. Obstructed single die bombers roll zero dice against your ships and obstructed two-dice bombers are only half as effective, which can be extremely effective at diminishing the threat from bombers on crucial turns provided you deploy the obstacles and maneuver well.

Intel Sweep
  •  The second player will place 3 of the objective tokens and the first player 2.
    • The placing of objective tokens and the naming of objective ships both happen after obstacle deployment and before fleet deployment.
    • If each player focuses only on their own tokens, the second player will grab their 3 tokens and the first player will grab their 2 and the second player will get the 75 bonus points.
      • Therefore it is incumbent on the first player to mess with this basic assumption if possible by trying to steal one of the second player's tokens or by destroying the second player's objective ship ASAP.
    • In general you can go for a "line" of tokens or a "triangle" of tokens as second player (assuming the first player doesn't put any tokens close enough to mess with you).
      • I find the line of tokens closer to your table edge is preferable if you're using a small fast ship as the objective ship and the triangle of tokens is preferable if you're using a larger more durable ship - position the closest point of the triangle towards your ship and the two points of the base a bit further out so you can collect them on back-to-back turns with a slower-moving medium or large ship.
  • Only the objective ships can collect the Intel Sweep objective tokens and only when they reveal their command dial. This has a few ramifications:
    1. If the enemy objective ship is destroyed, they have no further means of collecting tokens and you only need to get X+1 tokens to win the objective.
    2. Don't forget to grab that token when you reveal your command! This is commonly forgotten about and a rules stickler can (fairly, but it's still kind of a dick move) deny you your objective token if you don't pick it up when Intel Sweep tells you to. I'd recommend keeping an objective token on top of your objective ship's command dial stack to remind you of this.
    3. Because the first player gets the first activation each turn, it is conceivable that his objective ship will get to 3 tokens before the second player can. It's important for both players, but particularly the second player, to try to block the route their opponent's objective ship wants to take or to destroy it outright.
  • So long as you obey the objective token placement rules, you can place them wherever. Putting them in obstacles can sometimes be fun provided you have a plan for picking it up without damaging yourself.
What kind of fleets should consider bringing Intel Sweep?
Fleets should first and foremost have a ship in mind for the objective ship before including Intel Sweep. You can use a cheap small fast ship (like a flotilla or corvette - a Jaina's Light CR90A loves being the Intel Sweep objective ship) or a heavier longer-ranged ship (like an ISD or HMC80) that's okay with babysitting some tokens while maneuvering and lobbing red and blue dice in the early to mid game.

Rieekan enjoys Intel Sweep because assassinating his Intel ship won't stop it from picking up a token that turn, which can still give him the win on the objective (or at the very least usually let him gun for a tie).

The presence of even one Strategic squadron makes Intel Sweep a much easier objective to win as the Strategic squadron can push tokens closer to your Intel ship and away from an opponent's Intel ship- preferably it can do both at the same time (stealing a token your opponent was preparing to grab is deliciously evil).

Both aggressive and defensive second player fleets when played well can benefit from Intel Sweep. A defensive fleet with Intel Sweep gives the first player an incentive to stop the second player from walking away with 75 points, but if the first player isn't careful he can find his reckless offensive is giving the defensive second player's fleet exactly what it wanted - a bunch of ships and squadrons getting thrown willy-nilly into well-prepared fire zones. An offensive second player fleet can conversely push the initial area of engagement into the first player's side of the table, allowing the second player's objective ship to go about its business happily gobbling up its objective tokens safely behind the front line.

What kind of enemy fleets are disadvantaged by playing Intel Sweep?
Defensive/slow fleets don't like playing Intel Sweep. They simply don't have the resources to stop the second player from walking away with 75 points in most cases and it can cause them to play against their strengths when/if they panic and try to swat down the objective ship recklessly.

Any first player fleet without a Strategic squadron should give serious consideration before choosing Intel Sweep against a second player with a Strategic squadron. It's still winnable (or at least tie-able) but it's not going to be easy and you may very well be biting off more than you can chew.

  • Even though the second player places all objectives, that doesn't mean the placement sequence changes - once an obstacle is placed, it's placed and it's on to the next. Normally people don't fuss too much about this, but technically once you decide you want obstacle X at its current location, it's stuck there. Just be aware of that just in case you play against a rules stickler.
  • The setup area is the area further than distance 5 from the short edges of the table, so you still cannot place obstacles on the board near the short edges.
  • It's important to note that the obstacles must be placed beyond distance 5 of each other but the mines follow a completely different set of restrictions - they are placed after all obstacles and must be at distance 1 of an obstacle (they are "tethered" to it) but beyond distance 1 of other mines. It can seem a little confusing but I promise it's not too bad!
  • Detonating mines are not attacks. Therefore, they don't trigger any effects that trigger on attacks, they don't care about obstruction, and the defender can't spend defense tokens against them. The damage goes straight to the hull, which is pretty cool.
    • Dodonna still works when you roll a crit icon on a mine, though, just like he works when an enemy ship overlaps an asteroid. His ability doesn't trigger on attacks, only when enemy ships are about to take a face-up damage card.
  • In general, this objective is used to cordon off areas of the battlefield behind a bunch of unappealing mines. I recommend practicing your setup with this objective so you have a general sense as to how you want to divide things up and where you'd like to place your mines. There are a lot of possible configurations available to you depending on what your goal is.
What kind of fleets should consider bringing Minefields?
Minefields is primarily appealing to fleets that want enemies to approach from their favored arcs and don't handle it well when enemies sneak out of those arcs (like a VSDs, Assault Frigates, etc.). Basically you're trying to cordon off enemies into a clear attack lane which is where your best arcs are all pointed. If the enemy diverts from this plan of walking into death they need to go through mines which are walking into death. Win/win, right?

It should be noted that Strategic squadrons love to haul mines around to cause trouble and Grav Shift Reroute can drag obstacles (but not mines) out of place, which can further complicate plans for getting through the pile of mines and damaging obstacles to the enemy fleet.

The problem is Minefields can result in some boring or weird games. If it's clear that charging right into a killing field is the only alternative to charging through mines, then your opponent may very well just not engage at all and fly on the other side of the minefield all game. If you rely on the mines too much (leaving yourself very exposed as you expect the mines to be a sufficient deterrent) then an opponent may charge through them anyways and just trash you, but if you don't rely on them enough it's kind of a wasted objective. In short, Minefields works well when an enemy is willing to do something foolish in order to engage on bad terms but it doesn't really have an incentive for them to do so like some other points-based objectives (like Intel Sweep) do. I don't really recommend it in most cases.

What kind of enemy fleets are disadvantaged by playing Minefields?
Slower fleets have a very hard time hopping the mines and smaller ships get scared of taking an awful face-up damage they can't really handle with their poor Engineering value.

I still don't recommend Minefields, though. As I said, it can be punishing but it lacks an incentive to really make the enemy put his fleet through the meat grinder so it can result in very dull "guess we're not doing much actual fighting and basically going for a tie" games, which aren't fun in casual play and aren't going to help you win any tournaments in competitive play.

Superior Positions
  • When deploying your entire fleet you still deploy ships and squadrons as normal and once you've settled on one deployment you're on to the next. I don't see too many sticklers get crazy about enforcing this but that's technically the way it should be played, so be aware.
  • Take note that the Special Rule triggers whenever a ship or squadron attacks a rear hull zone and at least one damage was dealt. This has a few ramifications:
    • It just needs to deal one damage to anything, so shield damage works just the same as hull damage.
    • It doesn't matter if the rear zone itself ended up taking damage (say because you used a redirect), it only matters if the rear hull zone was attacked and then at least one damage happened.
  • Each "butt shot" victory token is worth 15 victory points, so they can add up quickly!
What kind of fleets should consider bringing Superior Positions?
Fleets with fewer deployments like Superior Positions because it allows them to avoid their typical problem of getting out-deployed by forcing the enemy to completely deploy his fleet first. In this role it's largely been replaced by Solar Corona, which ship-heavier fleets tend to prefer because they won't often be getting the victory tokens for Superior Positions. Thus the Superior Positions entry is going to be a bit short as it's still a good objective but is preferred mostly by carrier fleets.

Carrier fleets love Superior Positions (more than Solar Corona) because squadrons can consistently chase after and shoot enemy ships in the rear hull zone to rack up tons of victory tokens. Between Fighter Ambush, Precision Strike, and Superior Positions you have the "unholy trinity" of generic carrier fleet objectives.

What kind of enemy fleets are disadvantaged by playing Superior Positions?
Fleets that in some part are relying out out-deploying you hate choosing Superior Positions as it inverts a benefit they built a fleet towards.

Short-ranged ships don't like deploying "blind" as if they end up being on the outskirts of the battle it can take them most of the game to become relevant.

Fleets that are light on anti-squadron resources facing a carrier fleet take a double-hit from choosing Superior Positions (both getting deploy-screwed and hit up for lots of extra points by squadrons attacking rear hull zones) and will/should avoid it like the plague (if you're facing the unholy trinity, I'd recommend Precision Strike or Fighter Ambush instead).

Rieekan zombie ships can be turned into points piƱatas by Superior Positions much like they can by Precision Strike and so Rieekan commanders should be careful about choosing Superior Positions and which ship they zombify if they do choose it..

Final thoughts
That sums up our review of the wave one blue objectives! We'll be getting to the yellow objectives later this week or early next week to wrap up all the wave one objectives. Let me know if you had any questions or comments!

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