|If you didn't want potato jokes, I'm sorry, but the "eyes" had it. The puns only get worse, guys.|
|For the longest time, this was the Rebel's strongest ship. I spent a lot of that time not using it. I'm not a role model, kids.|
- 6 health is a good start, and the 4th highest Rebel ship health (behind the H1MC80, LMC80, and the MC75).
- 4 shields in the front, and 3 on the sides, is a great way to stay alive for longer. Identical to an ISD, but with half its health.
- Really solid side shots! From the good red range!
- A great suite of defense tokens! One of everything!
- Engineering 4! All the heals! The strongest Rebel Engineering (And the general standard across the board, Interdictor excepted)
- Front arc and back arc shots with equal dice! You actually don't mind people getting around to your back, you're still decent back there!
Their front arcs are also not amazing. They can sorta contribute, but their side arcs are better, by an entire red dice. Which is one more dice that has to be dealt with, or that could roll the double hit. Or an accuracy to lock down the Evade token your opponent has.
Comparing the Assault Frigate A to the B, the A has one more Blue dice AA, and an extra blue dice out the front. It also costs 9 more points, at the sacrifice of one of its squadron pushing capabilities. Both have their uses, and we'll get to them below.
For BOTH Assault Frigates, though, your movement profile is not amazing. You can expect to be Navigating a lot more often than you normally would as compared to a CR90, and with a Command Stack of 3 dials, you'll have to make sure to REMEMBER to Navigate more often than you'd expect. With regards to that Command Stack of 3, I've started to consider ships not just by base size but by dial amount/command stack. The Assault Frigate is a Medium Ship (FFG size), and the previously published Nebulon-B and CR90 are technically Smalls. However, with 3, 2, and 1 Command respectively, they all behave differently. While the Assault Frigate is a MEDIUM Base, I treat it as a LARGE ship. It's a Baby Large, but it's a "Large." (This is the end of the Finger Quotes, but it will explain below why I call this a Large ship). You want a few upgrades on it in order to keep it alive (and with 6 health, it needs them!) but if you don't try to pretend it's a Small ship (ie, don't assume you're going to be able to fix your problems immediately. Expect 2-3 turns of issues before you can fully alter what's happening UNLESS you plan for it) you should be able to turn out OK!
The Assault Frigate is a super-great generalist ship. It does nothing EXTRAORDINARILY well, but it can be outfitted to taste and help your list do what it needs to do better. It's an assembly line ship that needs a bit of looking at to get the most out of. Combine that with the fact that 2 of the last 3 Worlds winners had one in their list and there's a lot more to look at with this ship than you would think there would be. Weirdly, the Assault Frigate is somehow both slagged for being bad (a not-generally significant number of Red dice with a poor manuever profile and difficulty altering those Red dice) and also TOO good for what it can do (in short; Gallant Haven under a Rieekan Aces build. See below for talk of THAT).
How to Drive
The important thing to note about the Assault Frigate, as I said above, is that its best firing arcs are its sides. So: the best way to keep firing out of those side arcs is to keep ships in your side arcs. You want to be circling the battlefield and your opponent's ships, keeping them in the side arc as long and as much as possible. With 3 red dice, even obstructed, you'll be able to fire SOMETHING at them. Red dice are fickle, but they can still contribute.
|Aim to be in Red range as long as possible; your Evade token is useless (Non-Mothma) at short range.|
|There's more space in REAL deployment, but for ease of understanding, it's been shrunk and had words put in it.|
If you try to go forwards towards an opponent's ship, they may likely try to go into you as well. ISDs are ecstatic when you come towards them and don't turn enough. They'll just go forwards and eat your face next turn, resulting in you losing your Assault Frigate. Yes, they have more hit points than many other Rebel ships. You will still get eaten. You DO have a speed 3 joint and the ability (if you start effectively next to it and are going Speed 3 WITH a Navigate Order) to hop that VSD. You still are wandering into its front arc AND not really firing at it (Your best arcs are your sides, remember?)
|"I didn't say you COULDN'T, I said you SHOULDN'T."|
You won't be able to win in a one-on-one fight against an ACTUAL large ship, mind you, but you'll have several other ships and parts of your fleet to help you fight. It's dangerous to go alone, bring a friend (or several) with you!
The other thing to note is that while a LOT of strategies for dealing with Large ships (MC80s and ISDs especially) involve throwing a small base in their front that they have difficulty getting around/not ramming and being stuck there, the Assault Frigate can actually do OK and hop small bases that didn't expect it to be able to do that. I've done it a few times against Eric; Medium bases can fit a lot more spots than you'd expect. So long as you're navigating!
There are 2 Titles that come with the Assault Frigate, so these should be quick.
|A Squadron's Best Friend. Well beyond Intel, Biggs, Bomber Command Center, Toryn Farr...|
The PROBLEM with the Gallant Haven is that in order to get the bonus, you have to be within 1 of the Gallant Haven. Don't sail the Gallant Haven into close range with a VSD/ISD (where it should DEFINITELY not be!) in an effort to protect your squadrons. If you have a squadron list, it is a GREAT bunker for you to wait out your opponent's attacks/alpha strike from Sloane. But don't get caught up waiting to attack to ensure you don't take ANY damage from your opponent. Let them alpha strike you, then counter attack. OR, if they don't want to wander into the Normandy-esque bunker you've created for your squadrons, alpha THEM first, and then their ships. It's a great deterrent that lets you protect your squadrons a bit more, but don't overdo your waiting in an effort to make sure you take no damage. You brought enough squadrons to consider this a good 8 point investment; use them to go blow something up.
|This is about to get tricky....|
As a title itself? Eh, it's OK, if you have the points and don't need them elsewheres. I like adding a black dice, and when you Concentrate Fire, you can choose to add in a SECOND black dice..... but you're going to REALLY need to be navigating often, so you really SHOULDN'T be concentrating fire all that often with the Assault Frigate in my mind. Is it worth it? In one specific build in my mind, yes. I'll talk about it below.
Assault Frigate A vs B
So as we saw above (reusing the picture!)
There's a lot of similarities in the 2 ships. For 9 more points (between the B and the A), you get:
- +1 Blue flak dice
- +1 more Blue front dice
- -1 Squadron Commanding ability
The easy choice, of course, is that if you're commanding squadrons more, you'll want the Assault Frigate B. If you want to have your ship's front (or back!) arc contributing more than not, you'll want the Assault Frigate A. As it's a generalist ship either way, you can get away with either argument.
Common Builds and Upgrades
So I've been dancing around this all (I do that a lot, haha! I'm just trying to keep things ordered for ease of looking things up later)
|Me writing Armada articles|
|This mixtape is on FIRE! I can't believe how great Vader's dancing is to it!|
As for why Electronic Countermeasures over everything else? Cluster Bombs isn't really a good card, and Advanced Projectors doesn't prevent tokens from being Accuracy'ed away. You may come on a time where one of those would have saved you more than ECM, but generally, stick with ECM to save your bacon. Reinforced Blast Doors is good, but you still need to worry about your tokens getting locked down, so be careful before using it.
The OTHER often seen upgrade for Assault Frigates is Gunnery Team.
|Drop the bass on my mark in 5.... 4..... 3......|
As for other upgrades? It depends on what you want your ship to be doing. If you want a squadron pusher, Boosted Comms and Flight Controllers fit fine if you want to accentuate that. If you're going for damage pushing, the Paragon Title and Spinal Armaments instead of Gunnery Team.... but you have to be sure you're hitting the same ship with that. It IS 3 Red and a Blue followed by 3 Red and a Black at the minimum, but it's a ship you HIGHLY have to navigate with and be VERY sure you're where you need to be. You can also run Gunnery Team and Turbolaser Reroute Circuits, getting a ship that can put guaranteed damage into things at Red range. The problem with this plan is that you can't use the Evade token at ALL to cancel damage dice. I like the newer Dual Turbolaser Turrets on them, as it's an informed reroll of a red dice. If you need it, cool! If not, maybe it'll be better on the second shot! Quad Battery Turrets don't hurt, either, as you can wallop something coming in fast on you.
What about Veteran Gunners?
|Keep firing thataway!|
No, it's not. It's an ability to reroll your entire pool (Accuracies you've spent are removed from your pool, by the way). So if you roll 3 blanks on your red dice, it's great. If you roll 2 blanks and a double? Not so much. 2 (individual hits) and a blank? Yup, not good at all there. For what it gives you and what it does, it isn't really as needed on the Assault Frigate. Yes, there will come a time when your Assault Frigate rolls badly on a shot you didn't want it to. But given 5 points, I'd rather have the Paragon Title instead of this. It just doesn't "fix" enough problems in red dice for it to be worth it as a safety net in my experience.
In my opinion, though, much like Eric and VSDs, cheaper is better. The Assault Frigate does a lot of good, preferably on the flanks, and it doesn't necessarily NEED to be heavily upgraded in order to affect the outcome of the game (Do you NEED Expanded Hangar Bays or Flight Controllers? Maybe, don't get me wrong! But not taking them is OK too, especially with the basic decent Rebel fighter AA!). With 6 health, it SEEMS like a decent place to store your Commander! Or Toryn Farr! The problem with that plan is for any of those upgrades (Toryn Farr!) to work, you'll need to remain in range of your other ships/squadrons. The other problem with putting your Commander on it is that while it's more survivable than most, it's also a great big target of about 100 points of your fleet (base ship and Commander) that your opponent is going to be aiming more. Make sure to do more Engineering than most in that case, and it's not a bad case to locate Major Derlin.
|Sometimes you want to go, where everybody knows you're on Hoth....|
Is the Assault Frigate bad? No. It's received an impression in the greater Armada community that it's not a good ship, for various reasons. Some of that might be the fact that it's quite generalist, some that it's trying to straddle the line between a Small CR90 and an (actual) Large HMC80. The main issue that I will agree with is that you can't take or even use Leading Shots on it. Leading Shots is one of the main ways that you get efficacy out of your Large ships and their attack batteries, but you can't equip it here. You're entirely at the mercy of how your red dice roll, which is NOT easy to deal with. In a time of
It does exist in that range (between CR90 and HMC80), and I think that is its major issue. No one expects the CR90 to one shot another ship, but a well equipped Raider can. An ISD or an HMC80 will explode any small ship that wanders into close range of it. An Assault Frigate generally DOESN'T have that reputation. It also doesn't last long against Demolisher. I have been losing Assault Frigates to Demolisher attacks for 6 waves now, and it has sucked EVERY TIME. For the same cost as an Assault Frigate, you can get an Admonition MC30 that will put more damage into your opponent's ship faster and harder. Here comes 5 damage from an External Racks front and another 5-6 from my side pew pew pew! The Assault Frigate can't compete with that (realistically, I'm aware red dice have sides with 2-hits on them) alone.
But what the Assault Frigate has that MC30s don't is consistency. Not consistent damage, mind you, but consistent attacks against the same targets. Let's pull up my image from before about how to navigate it.
|Take THAT, VSD!|
The thing about the Assault Frigate is that it loves friends. It would love a second Assault Frigate nearby to help target whatever ship it's throwing red dice at. 3 red dice aren't great, but 2 shots of 3 dice are. Failing that, keep a CR90 or Nebulon B firing on the same ship. The MC30 can go off on its lonesome and get work done, but the Assault Frigate is part of a fleet and it needs the rest of the fleet to help it actually get work done. You can't deploy it by its lonesome and hope it'll win you the game, otherwise you're wasting 72 points plus. Similarly, you can't deploy your HMC80 by itself and expect it to win you the game, so treat the Assault Frigate similarly. Supplement its damage with a friend, and potentially even some fighters, too.
Relatedly, the other thing about the Assault Frigate is that it's the only ship in the Rebellion that can viably take and use Flight Controllers. Hammerheads don't push enough squadrons, LMC80s want Gunnery Team, and MC30s want Ordnance Experts (and don't push enough squadrons, either). If you want to win the squadron battle fast with a solid attack, the Assault Frigate is the way to do it. When you finish off whatever squadrons your opponent brought, you can then start bombing your opponent's ship, making up for your potentially less than stellar red dice attack rolls.
It can still get work done under Ackbar with Gunnery Teams (5 red dice, 5 red dice? SOUNDS GOOD TO ME!), and it does well as a squadron bunker (see above Gallant Haven title) and finisher (never underestimate an X-wing or 3 throwing 5 blue dice at squadrons). It's very flexible in it's build and role, though, which is NICE. I can recommend putting ECM or Gunnery Team on it (like I did above), but really, it's a matter of whatever you WANT to put on it. Whatever else you do to build your Assault Frigate, though, make sure to fill that Weapons Team slot. Let's review some potential Commander interactions with it below:
Admiral Ackbar used to SHINE with the Assault Frigate. The standard Rebel list for a long while in Wave 2 used to be Ackbar and 3 Assault Frigates with Gunnery Teams on them. Why? Because any ship that let you overlap them in the Conga Line was DEAD.
|You take 15 red dice, what do you get? |
Commander Sato: I just ran a build with him at the Sunday Adepticon Tournament (Spoiler: it did not go well for other reasons), but the basic build with this is pretty solid... so long as you can get his fighters into range of the ships you want to attack with them (THOSE were the other reasons, haha!). You take either the A or the B model, and then put Ordinance Experts and the Paragon title on there (with ECM because staying alive). If you can keep a squadron at distance 1 of a ship, that's 2 Black, 1 Red, and 1 Blue out the side, followed by 3 Black out the front, with Ordinance Experts rerolls on the Black dice! It's a decent way of throwing Black dice at Range; my problem is that I'm still trying to figure out a way to make the rest of his list worth it. It's a very nice component, though, to be sure, and it takes away the fickleness of Red dice. You're using it because it's a solid way of guaranteeing damage, NOT hits and crits. So long as there's damage showing, you're happy.
Princess Leia: Having played Leia, if you're going for a Large ship, this would actually be the largest I would use her on. She wants the ability to change commands on a dime, and 3 turns is a hard sell for her. But she loves all the ship's values: Engineering 4, squadrons 3, the dice can certainly appreciate a Con-Fire reroll.... I haven't tried it with her, but I'm not opposed to the idea. Keep it as cheap as you can though. Gunnery Team and done, maybe.
Mon Mothma: This is a GREAT place to locate her. The Evade token works at all ranges, and it puts out solid damage while pushing squadrons into the fray. Stay near the edges, and you'll likely want Boosted Comms here, too, if you want to push squadrons with it.
Madine: I've had decent luck with Madine and Spinal Armaments on an Assault Frigate as a navigating 3 red damage from all sides. With Madine, you don't necessarily NEED Gunnery Team here as you're aiming to be firing out of 2 different arcs as much as possible. Do try not to die though to concentrated fire (Hence, ECMs as usual, haha).
Rieekan: Great way to push Squadrons, great way to throw damage. He doesn't do anything special for them, but he does something special for ALL his ships. I just played a guy running one with the Rieekan Ace Squadron List. They just don't die, and when the Assault Frigate (with Expanded Hangar Bays) is throwing 4 of them out a turn, it's NOT easy to deal with them all... The Haven has been working with Rieekan for several waves, and it's a pain to fight through. Crack the Haven, THEN the squadrons. Hopefully you're still alive?
Dodonna: Much like Rieekan, he doesn't do anything crazy special for them, but he doesn't NOT want them either. If you can't spring for a H1MC80, it's a great spot to put him in and throw out dice and bomber squadrons as much as you can. I ran one at the 2017 Michigan Regionals and placed 4th with it. Flight Controllers, Gallant Haven, ECM (I had the points!)
Cracken: Cracken is one of the few Rebel Admirals who DOESN'T want an Assault Frigate. It seems like he would, considering they can go speed 3! But they have to STAY at Speed 3 in order to get the benefit... which seems like a nice way to accidentally navigate your way into a front arc of something you don't want to be sitting in front of (Hello, ISD....). I'm not saying you CAN'T, but Cracken seems tailor made for more small ships than anything. Worth considering if you want to run a Cracken Squadron list, of some sort, though.
Garm: Considering Garm comes with them, Garm SHOULD love them. And he does! With 3 Command, they love having tokens to be able to do things with. Either throw out another squadron, change speeds, or Engineer some shields around/up. A traditional Garm list back in the day was 2 of these bad boys flinging squadrons, and I used a lot of them together. With all those tokens, you can choose to apply some EXTRA benefit beyond whatever you were doing that turn (push a squadron to engage that bomber fleet before it can get activated next turn! Change speeds to be out of the way of something else! Reroll that dice that you needed to hit!) that it made Garm slightly unpredictable. With the advent of the Pelta and Ahsoka Tano, Garm is due for a comeback. Probably with one or two of these bad boys....
|Alt arts are cool|
The Assault Frigate isn't the most amazing ship at anything, but it puts out solid damage and can push a good quantity of squadrons as needed. It hasn't been seen as much, but if you treat it like a more maneuverable Large Ship, it has a few very good purposes. It's been slagged for a while, but don't pretend it's something that it isn't and you'll do great with it.