Sunday, December 13, 2020

Know Your Enemy/Commander's Corner: Garm bel Iblis

So if I'm going to write a post about how to build a Rebel fleet for cheap, the smart thing to do would be to get that Commander write-up written.  Garm is not an admiral seen all that often anymore, and that's a crying shame.
It's like they gave my Dad a wig and a weird space bandolier.  Go get 'em, space dad!
So as in all the times I do this, let's throw the card up first.

The bandolier says "I'm in charge" while the mustache says "of this beach party."
So you're getting tokens based on your Command. Your 3 dial ships get 3, your 2 dials get 2, and your 1 dials get? You guessed it, 1. What does that mean for you? It means you're fueling up your ships twice a game, and then you can trigger all the upgrades you want with those tokens, be they boarding teams, support teams, or Gunnery Team. It's a lot easier to power up several of these token upgrades if you don't have to spend a turn doing set-up to get them ready to go.  Dials are stronger than tokens, so every turn you don't spend taking a token is one that you can use a full dial on, and then add in a token as well.

Generally, you'll end up taking the tokens on either turn 1 or 2 and then on turn 4 or 5.  I can see a potential for a 3-5, maybe a 4-6 if the situation calls for it.  Garm gives you options though, and those are appreciated.  By letting you choose his rounds, you get even more options, and options are good.

Why should you play him?
Assuming an early round for your first token grabs (1 or 2), any commands you take that turn are actually getting used as dials*.  Most games and most commanders, you'll want to take tokens round 1 to set up future actions; your big ships might want to store a navigate token or an engineering token for ECM, your carriers might want to store a squadrons one, etc.  But for Garm, you don't need to store anything, you're already prepped and ready to go. Go forth and wreak havoc.

*One exception: if you bring Phoenix Home in your list, first turn you can take the token to power up its fleet commands as needed.

Second, you get more tokens on another later turn (mid rounds, 3-4, or late game, 5-6).  Most likely engineering is one of them, in an effort to keep your ships alive.  Maybe you want to navigate out of harm's way (not Garm's way, ha cha chaaaaa).  Maybe the Yavaris needs to throw out one more squadron next turn to end that ISD? Maybe Salvation has a ship set in its sights and you need to ensure that you're getting the red crit you need to finish it? You get to decide them all on that later turn (Try to live that long!).  It lets you power up your ships again without needing to spend vital actions and resources and time doing so.

Third and last, you end up doing more things in a turn with your ships than you thought possible.  In one turn, your Liberty can regenerate 1 shield (with its token), send out 2 squadrons (with its 2nd token), change its speed by 1 (3rd token) and add a dice to its forward attack (dial, finally, haha!) That's a CRAZY amount of things it can do in one turn just from tokens and that makes Garm unpredictable, as you never know when or where or HOW he'll use those tokens.  The more commands you can resolve in a turn, the generally better effects and abilities you get.  Doing stuff is better than not doing stuff, as shocking as that may sound.

Unrelated to token generation, Garm is also one of the cheapest Rebel admirals, and he's worth considering as a general choice.  He helps a lot of your ships get the most out of what they can/want to do each turn, while still giving you more points to put stuff into your list.  I encourage you to think of him as more of a Dodonna-type with 5 points spent on getting command tokens to all your ships twice a game.  Hondo costs 2 points for 2 tokens.  So long as you get better than 5 command tokens out of Garm you're getting better value.  And you don't need to give any to your opponent, Hondo.  Garm looks out for one guy: Garm.  You can also go lighter on token generating/passing upgrades in order to use those points elsewhere.  You're going to get those tokens from Garm, why would you need to Comms Net something over?

Garm also doesn't necessarily NEED one type of ship (but we'll get there), so you can build diverse lists with him.  Ackbar wants side shots more than front ones, Mon Mothma wants ships with an evade token, Cracken wants smalls or mediums that can go speed 3, but Garm will take anything.  When you're off fighting your own Rebellion, you'll take anyone you can get.
Seriously, every picture I find of him has that bandolier thing.  And the mustache stays the same all the time!  I assume this is from his younger days on Corellia.  I'm just going to start posting pictures of other Space Dads now, and see who notices.
Speaking of the tokens themselves, let's talk a little about them all.  We all know what we can do, but how do you choose what you want to get with them?  Let's go through them all and determine what to take.
  • Navigate Token - This is the default token most ships take Turn 1 (in a non-Garm list).  Eric and I have talked about how important maneuvering can be, and being able to increase/decrease speed at will is usually very important for staying in range or getting out of a bad range.  I'd almost always make it the first token I pick every game for each one of my ships.
  • Repair - Repair is a strong choice.  Moving shields or bringing them back can keep ships of yours alive.  Not a bad choice for your second token.
  • Squadrons - Put it on whatever carrier you need, or use it as a Boarding Team trigger.
  • Concentrate Fire - If you want to improve damage or trigger Intensify Firepower! on your Pelta
What rounds should you choose? Before I begin, I want to point out that his old text stated that you would get these tokens mandatorily on the first round. I will cover exceptions later, but in general, I'm going to default to assuming at least one of your commands is done turn 1 or 2 at the latest (and that you're not necessarily planning on a turn 3 and 5 token dump).  Any objectives you take that give out tokens (Salvage Run, Abandoned Mining Facility) or ones that remove ships from the board before the game starts (Hyperspace Assault) that you can be sure of spending early means that you could default to 2 or 3 for your first round.  Your second round you will likely want round 4 or 5.  Round 6 is pretty much too late (barring a slow initial approach on your part) to meaningfully impact the game, and round 3 is likely too early to both spend all your previous tokens and to ensure that you'll get value from your token generation for the rest of the game.  Your mileage may vary of course.

Before we get into the ships, there's one upgrade that I would consider near mandatory for Garm.
Agent Fulcrum reporting for duty
With all the different tokens you're passing out, and all the different ships you'll want doing different things, you may end up in a case where you have the "wrong" token for what you need that turn.  Yavaris might DESPERATELY need a Navigate token to get out of the Demolisher in its side arc; your MC80 might need a squadron token to send someone to engage the bombers that are threatening it far too closely... Well then you exhaust Ahsoka and change the token to what you need.  With ALL the tokens you have in Garm's fleet, having this Get Out of Jail Free card is incredibly helpful.  A lot of Rebel fleets love having her as insurance, but Garm REALLY enjoys her.  Get the Liberty title to actually be useful every turn! Use your Pelta every turn to your full advantage!

Garm has a lot of ships he likes and can build around.  Generally, the ships Garm goes for either do their job better with the tokens (ie, extra squadrons pushed from your carriers) or can do 2-3 things a turn with the tokens.  The successful Garm fleets I've seen are those that don't need/use a Comms Net flotilla, because Garm is doing the work for them.  He'll take anything, but the more Command 2+ ships you have in a fleet, the better it will do for you.  Having 1-2 command 1s isn't a bad plan, just to get another activation in, but don't spam CR90s or Hammerheads with him.  I know shmitty had success with a Garm Starhawk build (all 4 tokens twice a game!), so if you want a different way of running the Hawk than Agate, it's not a bad idea at all.
To steal from Kris Straub, I've always been Team Edward
Fleet Building:
First, I'm going to point you towards Steel Strategy and shmitty's article about the Garm fleet he won GenCon with.  Make my life easier if I point you towards the experts, really.  Garm fleets generally aren't flashy (which is why he's not often seen), but he's still good.  He doesn't bring in a large base out of nowhere a la Raddus or make one large ship tankier like Agate.  Make sure you're doing something with all of his tokens and you've got a good fleet there.  The benefit of Garm is his tokens; use those to figure out a playstyle.  You can also push squadrons better with some of your carriers, so MFC or LFC squadron fleets are also good with him.  I will again recommend not putting in a Comms Net flotilla, just because those 20 points are used much better elsewhere (slash are already part of your commander!).  I realize this view may seem a heresy, but shmitty won GenCon without a flotilla, so....  Otherwise, Garm is great with all ships and builds, though you'll likely want SOME squadrons in there, personally.
Danger Will Robinson Wedge Antilles? Sure why not.  I'm running out of Space Dads!

Final Thoughts
Garm hasn't been seen as much recently considering the new Rebel admirals and their abilities to change the nature of how the ships work.  But I promise that once you get an Assault Frigate to command 3 squadrons a turn, change its speed by 1, heal a shield, and reroll a red dice against a ship, you'll change your tone about his abilities.  Give him a try, see how he does for you!


  1. "send out 2 squadrons (with its 2nd token)"

    I thought you could only activate 1 squadron with a token?

    1. Normally yes, but with the Liberty title, it's two.

  2. Nitpicky but Garm is the 3rd cheapest admiral now.