Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Know Your Enemy/Commander's Corner: Jan Dodonna

We'll get back to the squadrons blogging soon enough, but for now I wanted to touch on the other Commander commonly seen with squadrons (I have heard requests for more ships blogging, and I WILL get on that very soon, but it was a very busy weekend, so I figured I'd knock this out first.  It's been half done for a while now, so as of this post it's ALL done).  Anyway, as we all know, Rieekan helps your named squadrons stay alive longer, keeping you in the fight for longer while still getting to attack one more time before they die.

The OTHER end of the squadron spectrum for manipulating damage is Jan Dodonna (Old Man River, Dr Beardface (it's pronounced Beard-Fah-Say!), You Brought HOW Many Squadrons?).  Let's talk about him.
This was one of the few pictures I could find that DIDN'T show him looking mad at me for starting this piece instead of writing about how to fight squadrons with squadrons.
Basic Summary!

Let's take a look at the card and start from there.
I'm getting too old for this s***....
First, he costs 20 points.  He's the cheapest Rebel admiral.  The fact that he's so cheap is one point in his favor.  The other great point is his ability, which lets you CHOOSE the damage card from among the top 4 and let that be the face-up damage card.  If you can get that damage card, he gives you options, the best possible answer.

You DO have to be dealing face up damage, though.  You can get it if through some of the objectives (Minefields springs to mind, for one), and if they hit any asteroids.  Otherwise, if you don't have the basic crit effect or APTs on your ship, you don't get to choose the damage.  So you'll want to be maximizing those effects.  Contain tokens, potentially shields, and rolling into just basic damage or choosing other crit effects (Norra Wexley, but she DOES let you use your ability faster....) means, again, you don't get to choose the damage card (because you won't be dealing anything face up!).  But when you do? Sweetness.

Dodonna is a hard admiral to calculate.  Just because he gives that ability, sometimes it's incredibly useful and sometimes it's not.  In the damage deck, there are 8/52 Structural Damage cards, which is a 15.4% chance of being pulled.  Dodonna gives you a better chance of that; if I'm calculating the binomial distribution correctly, Dodonna has a 48.2% chance of pulling a structural damage in that 4.  If you need a specific crit effect (Comms Noise, for example, or Projector Misaligned, each with 2 in the deck), Dodonna takes your chances from 3.9% to 14.6%.  Probability doesn't function perfectly, as we all know, but having the chance to get one of these improved this much can affect the game much more significantly than expected.  Knowing that your MC30 with APTs COULD potentially pull Projector Misaligned (and remember, the APT crit effect is dealt BEFORE brace and redirect defense tokens actually get resolved, even though they're spent before!) on an ISD has to make the Imperial player think twice about it.  The probabilities only improve as you draw more and more cards from the damage deck, but some of those cards may end up as face DOWN damage on ships you're attacking.  With the existence of 2 of each type of card in the deck, just keep drawing and doing damage and you'll hopefully eventually see the ones you want.  That's right, my brilliant advice is that by doing more damage to your opponent's ships, you can deal the damage you want and win the game.  More damage, win game.  This is why you come here, folks.

This DOES sometimes mean, though, that you'll draw Depowered Armament on a flotilla, Blinded Gunners against a Gladiator, etc.  It's all probability! This evens out for the turns when you draw Comms Noise on the ISD that was at speed 1 before you hit it with the crit, or Targeter Disruption on Demolisher.
Anchorman is always worth quoting
So while you can't really regulate it, Dodonna started (and is a major player in) the Rebels swinging their way into potentially crazy damage.  Turbolaser Reroute Circuits while OFTEN going to the 2 hit side, can just as easily go to the crit side, just to trigger Dodonna's ability.  And if you're choosing your objectives right (Precision Strike), that might even be what you want!  He also, as I mentioned above, works well with squadrons.  Dodonna's ability triggers on EVERY basic crit effect your bomber squadrons pour into the hull of a ship.  Theoretically, you can pull from 4 successive B-wing attacks 4 different Structural Damages (the probability is astronomical, i'm not calculating it), which would be the 4 B-wing damages PLUS the 8 total damage from 4 pulled structurals.  That will wreck an ISD FAST. 

The basic answer of "Why play Dodonna" comes down to several potential reasons.  Sometimes it's a points concern, sometimes it's manipulating squadron damage, and sometimes it's because you just want control over face-up damage dealt to ships.  The last reason may be that sometimes no other Admiral seems to fit what you want to do.  Dodonna's ability and cost is so generalist that he can sometimes fit into a list when no one else will do.  There's really very little I recommend NOT taking with him, his ability works well with almost everyone.

I'm not planning on breaking down the individual ships here; literally every ship either fires dice that can get critical effects or is the basic GR75 that every commander wants.  The general advice I'll give here is that if you aren't bringing carriers to push bomber squadrons, try to find a way to equip a way (TRCs, XX9s, APTs, etc) to guarantee you more face-up damage cards as they'll give you a better chance of getting the card you need at that moment to swing the game towards your favor.  General advice, there.  The more attacks you make, the better chance you have of being able to use his ability and get those face-up criticals.

Fleet Building
The common ship builds you see with him usually tend towards 1 of 2 types.  Combine the types together in some fashion and you get your usual Dodonna fleet.

1) Carriers
Because of Dodonna's ability, squadrons with Bomber get the same benefit as ships under him.  H1MC80s, the Pelta, Assault Frigates, Yavaris, etc, all want to be commanding squadrons and winning the squadron war in order to bomb ships repeatedly.  If only someone had written an article recently about how to run a bomber fleet correctly (Turns out this was the perfect time for Dodonna)!  B-wings throwing damage into ships can potentially do 4 damage if a Structural damage is pulled.  3 B-wings can potentially be 12 damage.  Dream, baby, dream.
"Well, the Empire doesn't consider a small one-man fighter to be any threat, or they'd have a tighter defense." Words to make your opponent regret.

2) Straight Up Damage
LMC80s, CR90As with TRCs, Salvation, H1MC80s (if you focus on the damage part of them), Ordnance MC75s, the Garel's Honor, and MC30s.  Put more damage into ships, get more crits.  He LOVES MC30s, especially with Assault Proton Torpedoes.  The ability to ignore all their shields and just deal a straight up damage to the hull is wonderful and for ships built around shields to keep them alive, terrifying.

The benefit of Dodonna is that even if you go for the Carrier first type, you can easily slot in/reuse the Damage second type.  H1MC80s that push squadrons can with a few upgrades also wail on ships quite well; Yavaris can take LTTs too, and any spare points in your list are perfectly happy running TRCR90's. 

Final Thoughts
As a man who'll often try to luck his way into what's needed, sometimes you need to roll a hard eleven.  Some of the most epic stories I've ever had were from Dodonna pulling that EXACT right crit at that EXACT right moment, and sometimes those are the best games.  To quote Wedge Antilles from the old X-wing series though, "You can't plan for luck.  Plan smart and let luck land where it will."  Using that strategy will let you leverage Dodonna's ability into being something that can cause controlled havoc, and for your opponent uncontrolled panic.


  1. Just wanted to say I loved this article (and your blog in general) since I always seem to learn a new rule. I didn't understand the timing of spending defense tokens and applying critical effects so that's definitely going to come into play now with my Dodonna fleet I'm using for the Corellian Campaign.

    1. Thanks!

      The timing on Assault Proton Torpedoes can be very problematic for opponents for the reason John stated: defense tokens are spent (some have an immediate effect, like evade or scatter, and others have an effect that gets resolved when damage is resolved later, like brace and redirect), the critical effect is chosen and resolved, and then damage gets resolved. If the APTs flip a crit that causes a loss of shields inbetween the redirect and/or brace token getting spent but before they assist with damage, your opponent may find the hull zone they were counting on redirecting shields to suddenly has less shields than they anticipated. It's a very sneaky trick when it comes through!

    2. Thanks for the kind words! I'm always glad when someone reads my/our stuff. Hope Dodonna goes well for you!

  2. Thanks for taking the time to update the Article. What I only noticed now though that you did not mention that Face up damage cards from Obstacles / Minefields/ and maybe Objective Cards can also be impacted by Dodonna.

    1. Valid point; forest and trees on my end of course. I'll add it in!