Thursday, December 10, 2020

Squadrons Encyclopedia 3: Medium Fighter Coverage!

We continue our coverage with Medium Fighter Coverage (MFC), a group on the rise.  This group usually ends up somewhere near 100 points, and building it is a little nebulous.
No, I said nebulous, as in hard to define.  Hit me after the jump and I'll do the best I can at guiding you to this!
So the MFC has more points invested in it than the SFC, but less so than the Large Fighter Coverage, which usually means bombers for the LFC.  The goals of the MFC are similar to the SFC but different enough to warrant their own breakdown:

1) Deployment help
2) Keeping the other guy honest
3) Finding a solid middle ground that isn't worth expanding into a full 120+ points LFC while also...
4) Potentially providing substantial supportive damage into ships
5*) Having a reason to bring Sato to the table

1) Deployment help and 2) Keeping the other guy honest
I'm just going to refer you back to the SFC post here, as these roles are so dang near identical that re-reading them and using them as a foundation for this post will help you.

3) A solid middle ground that isn't worth expanding into a full LFC
This is where we start getting into more nebulousness.  Right now, there's a LOT of people running heavy squadrons these days.  I think Eric quoted the math at me that 2/3 of the lists at Worlds were running maximum squadrons.  HOWEVER, Eric got 17th in 2019 running squadronless, Truthiness got 5th after beating up every Leia player in attendance (side note: boooooo), and Duck_Bird got 10th running an ACTUAL MFC.  Shmitty won GenCon 2019 with a TRUE MFC.  You don't HAVE to run a full 134 point complement of squadrons to do well and win the game; the MFC is more for a specific goal you have in mind.  What you DO need is a way of ensuring that your squads can fight whatever squads your opponent brings, while being relevant as well if they brought nothing.

Traditional (non 2-ship) LFC lists don't just have 134 points in squadrons; they have Yavaris and Adar Tallon or Pryce and Squall and....  It's 134 points of squadrons and ships designed to use them, while the dedicated carriers don't provide as amazing of damage as your other ships.  If you can use your ~100 point squad ball to shut their 134 point group down for one full turn or better, two turns? That's two turns your attack ships can move in for the kill and start pumping damage into those flimsy carriers.  After talking to some friends in Minnesota (waves at Ian, Andy, and Ted), their experience with the MFC is that a dedicated squadron ball IS DEFINITELY going to eat your squads.  You can get some decent damage in, and you can prevent that squad ball from hitting your ships for about 2 turns maximum.  Your job is to hit his ships HARD in that time, so you can hopefully turn the tide of the battle FAST enough that you don't get overwhelmed by his squads and carriers before then.  The MFC is much more of a "famous last stand" group in this case that is definitely going to be attempting to trade its lives for your attempt at killing their ships.

When you build this group, you're taking away points spent on squadron improvement upgrades (Flight Controllers, Boosted Comms, for example) and dedicated carriers (Yavaris, Quasars) in order to spend them on more deadly combat ships.  Your squads won't necessarily win against super-upgrade heavy LFC, but they can hopefully stand their ground ENOUGH to let your combat ships get IN THERE and start shooting.

4) Potentially providing substantial supportive damage into ships
But what if they brought a SFC group, you ask? Or no group?  You want to be able to DO something with your squadrons after you kill their Shara/Tycho or their 6 TIE fighters or whatever.  You don't want to bring 90 points of squadron killer and then hit Eric and his 8 ships/no squadrons!  So (in my opinion) you're looking for multi-role squadrons that CAN do several purposes, namely squadron fighting or ship damage or contribute in other ways.  I swear I've got examples linked below.

You somehow want defensive and strong while also offensively decent in order to get work done if you hit someone squadronless.  You want to be able to fight an LFC group while your ships go do the dirty work of killing theirs, while able to put out SOME damage of their own.  That's a lot of things you WANT without a lot of me defining them.  The current state of affairs is that same nebulousness joke I made above.  Somehow, in 80-100 points you need all of this.  If I spent 48 points on 6 TIE fighters or 33 on Shara/Tycho, that leaves me 352/367 (less commander, of course), in order to spend on ships and upgrades to kill things.  48/33 is significant (almost 10-12% of your list!), but it's nowhere NEAR as significant as 80-100, a potential full 25% of your list.  Your squadrons are a valid component of your list and should be contributing as such, no matter WHO you fight.

There's a debate to be had about whether or not you want to be going just hard defense because "everyone" is bringing squadrons, so they'll have to hit your YT-1300s and VCXs and Shara/Tycho and and and and.  What you're trying to do there is bring points to "Not Lose" and that's not smart strategy.  Not Losing isn't winning, it's dying slowly and not going to let you be able to attack your opponent's ships well.

Basically, the MFC is a "Hedge your bets" strategy where you can beat up on the SFC and then hit his ships, or you beat up on the LFC until you're dead.  Its a good number of squadron points, but you don't have to invest 134 points in squadrons and then more in upgrades to ensure that you won't die to a bomber cloud.  The squadrons you'll want for this are those that excel at multiple roles, but their primary role should USUALLY be fighters.  Lando is a great example of a squadron that can fill multiple roles, be it at squadron killing or attacking ships.  The faster you kill his squadrons, the faster you can move into wailing on his ships.
Just like this! Hopefully facing less Star Destroyers on your part though...
One side note that I'll bring up a few times in the piece is that you need a reason for doing this all instead of just going a full 134 and upgrades.  It's not "bad" to do medium squads, you just need to know why you're doing it.  If the squadrons you're bringing would be really improved by adding 30-50 points of something and Yavaris to ensure they get to do a thing... then make an LFC group and not a bad MFC.  Expect me to return to this refrain at least once or twice.

5*) Having a reason to bring Sato to the table
This is a point I want to bring up here and I'll make sure to address it in the Sato article soon enough.  Sato is not a squadron commander.  Sato is a commander who uses squadrons to accomplish his goals.  "Well with Yavaris and a mess of B-wings...." you made a bad Rieekan list.  Sato's squads are SPOTTERS, there to help him change the dice colors.  He wants fast movers and heavy hitters, squads that can take a beating while still being annoying and providing chip damage as needed (so WEIRD that I type that for some reason....)  Many of these squad balls on the Rebel side started form at one point or another as Sato blobs that got altered or switched after testing.  I'll give credit where I can, but Sato has helped a lot here (which is a very weird sentence to type, haha) in the development of this article.  Well, more accurately, Nathan Coda did.

Who DON'T you want?
This is back in the nebulous answer area, as at the moment all I'll tell you is "Dedicated Bombers."  Scurrgs aren't meant for this role, no matter what their speed, Y-wings would rather be in a giant bomber cloud, and Luke Skywalker is a lot of points that could be an X-wing and maybe a Z95 instead.  The first goal is to handle your opponent's squadrons.  Goal 2, if you get to, is hitting his ships.  While Luke is great if you've broken his squadrons, he's not as great as if you went with Wedge and/or Dutch instead, especially facing a LFC group. I PERSONALLY don't like having to command these all multiple turns in a row with a dedicated carrier; a flotilla doing it is fine but I'm not ecstatic about using my squads 3-4 on my Large base for multiple turns in a row.  YMMV, of course, but that sounds like the makings of an LFC.
Or my recipe for Porg Chops
Ship Support
Whatever group you DO take, you're probably going to NEED to command them.  If you can jump your Rogues in earlier, like we talked about doing in Chapter 1, you potentially can kill his squadrons before they get to activate.  If you need to do it one turn with your ships (usually turn 2), it's ok.  Just remember that the more you do it, the less usefulness you're actually GETTING out of Rogue (and the more you SHOULD be doing a full LFC with carrier in tow).  But if it ends 2-3 important squadrons before they can attack, it's worth one turn of activation.

All Fighters Follow Me! isn't necessary, as your fighters are generally faster.  That doesn't mean I wouldn't include it if if helps your list enough.  With FCT and AFFM!, you can make YT-1300s move at speed 4+ (FCT 1, move 3 with AFFM!), but that's also a lot of points to OCCUPY the squadrons (YT-1300s don't kill as well as you would think, but they're darn good at occupying!) for a Medium Group you're trying to make here.  Why not just go up to a LFC group instead?

I wouldn't use Flight Controllers.  You're already bringing squadrons that are good at killing squadrons; I don't think it's worth the 6 points and your weapons team slot on a ship that might want Ordinance Experts or Gunnery Team to fit it.  It's more of a thing in the LFC in order to end whatever other force you're facing FAST.  The MFC doesn't mind too much being stuck in for several turns, and the benefit of the MFC is that your ships can operate nearly independently if they have to.  They don't NEED squadron upgrades, as the squadrons are upgraded already and able to kill well enough on their own.  To reiterate, if you're adding in all sorts of squadron upgrades and tricks to ensure that you can bring the squadron game to parity.... why not just go all-in with your squads instead?  Best case you get the alpha and survive a turn or two longer than normal, worst case you get alpha'ed and DIE.

Final Thoughts
There's not much more to cover here in THIS article right now.  Destroying enemy squadrons is very similar to how things are written up in the SFC article, so I'd refer back to that for tips and advice.  Always remember the goal here.  Destroy the squadrons, then go for the ships without overinvesting in upgrades and carriers.

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