Thursday, December 17, 2020

General Airen Cracken: Know Your Enemy/Commander's Corner

We continue Wave 3 with General Cracken, head of Rebel Intelligence.  Hit the jump and unleash the Cracken!
I was actually in the movie and this is the joke you open with? Ugh, I'm disappointed.
Basics of the Card
As in all times, let's throw up the card and break it down, y'all!
He really looks like he's telling me and some punk kids to get off his lawn.
So there's a fair amount going on here.  First, small or medium ships.  Keep that in mind while building him.  Second, speed 3 or 4.  So you gotta be going fast to get the benefit.  With ALL those benefits, what it does is treat the attack as obstructed.  So a dice gets removed from the pool before they all get initially rolled.  Relatively simple to understand what happens, so long as you qualify with the first two points.  If you're a small ship going speed 2, no benefit.

Why Play Him
Well, he acts a lot like Mon Mothma in a way (as I said in her article).  She wants ships with evade tokens, which are usually small and medium ships anyways, and he ALSO wants them.  His benefit is better at long and medium range, while hers actually takes effect at close and medium.  Breaking that sentence down, at long range, his ability can still apply (if you're speed 3), while Mothma's works like normal (slash isn't applying yet).  The OTHER benefit of using him at long range is that when you remove a die because you're obstructed, you can also spend an evade token to remove a SECOND die (or a third even, if you Foresight it!).  You can then return fire from long range and get damage on your opponent as you've prevented a lot from hitting you so far.

At medium range, Mon Mothma starts to apply, and Cracken can still apply.  Removing a dice of your choice after rolling (Mothma) seems a little stronger in my mind than removing it before it happens (Cracken).  Mothma removes a die with an evade token here, while Cracken removes one with his obstruction rule and rerolls one with any evade tokens (which may still cancel a crit!).  The obstruction is nice, as it prevents attacks (if they have only one dice somehow), but you can't get double obstructed if you're behind an obstacle at medium range or using Early Warning System.  The "relative" ease of inserting Early Warning System into the ships used in a Mothma fleet means that it's more doable to get the obstruction and her bonus than just using his.  As easy as it is to insert 7 point upgrades multiple times, of course.
We all knew I was going to be making the joke eventually, might as well get it out of the way now.
However, when you're in Short Range, Mon Mothma's ability is stronger.  If Demolisher rolls up on you, and fires 3 black dice out the side (Cracken's obstruction coming in to play here!), it can still trigger that crit effect, just with less dice.  Mon Mothma can force more rerolls on Hit+Crit black dice there, but Cracken cannot affect more than one (plus size check, of course).  Cracken does better striking and sniping from a distance, while Mothma tends more towards close range fighting (as her evade tokens work even better at that range).  The longer you stay in close range, too, the better chance you have of getting shot and killed.  You don't have very many hardy small/medium based ships that like staying in short range for long, there.  He also doesn't do anything against squadrons, as well, which is not an easy proposition in a meta with Sloane or Thrawn in it.

Cracken can double up on obstruction and evade tokens to negate a lot of damage, but he needs to be careful with what ends where.  Getting too close to an ISD-II still may not save you, even if you ARE obstructed there.  You're going to want to be punctuating long range red dice damage (Hello TRCR90s) with quick strikes at other ranges (medium, some close).  Run in, hit a ship, and then leave.  You can also keep it all long range red dice too, but that's your call.  The issue is that in order to keep his ability functioning, you need to stay at speed 3+.  That can make you somewhat predictable with your ships and all, even if you're navigating a lot of the time.  And predictability can result in death.

He is cheap though.  At 26 points, he's one of the Rebel admirals on the lower end of the "points bell curve."  You can't overstate that as well.  One issue with Cracken is that his ability is hard to quantify.  How many shots aren't taken at you or how much damage is saved because of that obstruction or because it's going to remove a dice after you evade or so?  That's not an easy number to figure out.  He's also better against Salvo attacks then most other Rebel commanders.  If you can repeatedly limit the damage coming at him, that's a good niche.  If you're seeing a lot of Salvo attacks from Starhawks/Onagers and Local Fire Control (or any of the GAR/Seps stuff!), he's a good choice.  It's dependent on you knowing your opponents though, that's for sure.

He wants ships that let him use his ability.  I've seen people use a Pelta that lurks in the back for him, which is fine, but it shouldn't be your main force getting shot since it won't get his benefit.  If you're not bringing a small or medium ship that can go speed 3 (Pelta excepted), either replace it or find another commander.

Fleet Building
Generally I do NOT suggest starting at speed 3 with your ships unless you're in range to get attacked turn 1.  Don't ramp up speed until it's needed, and navigate constantly.  Don't always stay at speed 3 if speed 2 will keep you out of being attacked this turn/next.

His usual mainstay is spammed Task Force Antilles Hammerheads.  Use his obstruction to prevent 1 dice, the evade to cancel another, and the task force title to pass around a third.  That's a wounded but definitely still alive Hammerhead.  Capitalize on that and you've got a good game going.  He doesn't do anything for squadrons, so a lot of builds tend towards either squadronless or spammed YT2400s.  He tends towards a mess of the YT2400s just as matter of keeping up with the Hammerheads without having to command squadrons with them.

Relatedly, as his fleet is a lot like Mothma's, you need to ask yourself what Cracken is doing for you that Rieekan running it wouldn't.  Obstruction is cool, but have you tried being only mostly dead, instead? Another issue with his fleet is that several of the ships that are often seen in Rebel fleets (MC30s in particular, though Assault Frigates and CR90s can as well) can take Early Warning System, and can use Mothma.  It's not an easily spammed upgrade, of course, but make sure you're building both a fleet that's not better with Rieekan or that Mothma/Early Warning System combo included instead.  If you're using him for cheapness, would Garm or Dodonna be better? It's a very thin needle to thread to get use out of him, but it's still there, and you still can find a good fleet if you look for it.  Focus on damage reduction (TFA, Bright Hope, MC30s) while still being able to put out damage as well and you've got the makings of a fleet.
Even his Lego looks angry!
Final Thoughts
Cracken is an interesting commander to build around, as he can theoretically prevent all sorts of damage and shots against you.  It's not an easy ability to quantify, but there's still a diamond of a list somewhere in there.  Good luck finding it!

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