Thursday, December 17, 2020

Imperial commander review: General Tagge

All right let's finish off the Imperial side of teeny-tiny wave three with a commander review of General Tagge!

You may remember him as "the only person on the original Death Star that took the Rebels seriously."

"We're just out getting our hourly steps. I swear, Fitbit is more demanding than Lord Vader."
General Tagge's rules got a little more complex in 1.5:
  • You choose the round tokens after deploying fleets. This means if Tagge isn't on the table at that point, he literally does nothing.
  • The round tokens can't be consecutive, so no rounds 4 and 5, for example.
    • This sucks, but we'll talk more about why soon.
  • Each of your ships recovers a single discarded defense token at the start of the rounds you chose.
  • If your ship has 2+ discarded defense tokens, then you'll need to choose which one to return. 
  • It triggers at the start of the turn, so prior to any ship activations or command dial decisions.

Even with his slight 1.5 improvement (where you get to choose the two rounds rather than being locked into 3 and 5), Tagge remains a difficult commander to use well but I feel like there's something there for someone who wants to really dig in deep and struggle it out with him.

The first issue is choosing your rounds after fleet deployment. You'll want to set the first round for the round after you expect the two fleets to start getting serious punches in. Typically this will mean round 3 or round 4. The issue with the non-consecutive round requirement is you'll then naturally want your next recovery round to come as soon as possible, but you can't do the round immediately after your first. So you go for the consolation prize of round 5 or 6. By that point it usually won't make a big difference. Sometimes it will, of course, but it's not a reliable assumption that a ship that's been in combat for 3 rounds won't already have its fate decided by the time Tagge comes back from going out for smokes - giving a defense token back to a ship that was already going to survive isn't a meaningful difference; neither is a doomed ship getting a token back too late going to change things in most cases. So effectively you're looking to make Tagge's first use a good one and his second use will hopefully be all right but that's a problem for end-of-the-game you.

After that, you need to try to set the game tempo correctly so Tagge isn't firing off prematurely or too late. Your opponent clearly is going to be keen on disrupting this tempo to trip you up so generally it pays to be aggressive rather than passive if you can help it.

The final major issue with Tagge is while token burnout is definitely a factor in most games of Armada, your opponent gets some control over it. Accuracy icons and opponent attack decisions can make Tagge tough to use well - if your opponent focuses down one ship at a time (which he should be trying to do regardless) and/or stops you from spending your defense tokens, then Tagge can do little and sometimes even nothing when he triggers. It helps if you have a means of spending your own defense tokens for other ends, but there aren't a lot of upgrades that allow you to do that - at this point just Turbolaser Reroute Circuits and to a lesser extent Reactive Gunnery. Upgrades that encourage overuse of defense tokens, like Expert Shield Tech, or can allow you to spend those tokens regardless of accuracy results, like Electronic Countermeasures, also make the list.

With all those issues laid on the table,you've got a few options.

Gozantis are fine support ships for just about any Imperial fleet, but you can expose them to a bit more long-ranged danger (be careful!) with Tagge around to bring the scatter token back.

Arquitens can get use from Turbolaser Reroute Circuits, they're happy to use Expert Shield Tech, and they've got a defensive retrofit slot for Reactive Gunnery if you want to. They're swell with Tagge.

Gladiators can be used very aggressively and have one evade, brace, and redirect, making it fairly easy to overspend in the right/wrong circumstances, allowing Tagge to do you a solid and bring back something you need to keep ticking. You'll want Minister Tua for Electronic Countermeasures, especially with Demolisher, but it can help prolong the life of one of the strongest glass cannons in the game.

Imperial-class Star Destroyers, namely the ISD-II and Kuat, both bring a defensive retrofit slot for ECMs as well as a pretty self-contained package. If you really want to go all-in on Tagge, you can use Needa and Turbolaser Reroute Circuits on the ISD-II or the Devastator title on either. Devastator gives you the option with Tagge of drastically overspending your tokens, even when unnecessary ("oh, you attacked but did no damage? Guess I'll contain, redirect, and brace!") for the extra Devastator goodness with Tagge being able to pull you back from the brink when/if you go too far.

Super Star Destroyers can be trading shots round 1 with the right deployment, so they're in no danger of missing out on Tagge's round 3 trigger and they appreciate anything that relives the strain on their defense tokens from being ganged up on. The main issue is making Tagge worth it over other commanders, in which case I'd recommend Tagge here for an SSD focusing on durability.

Fleet building
You've got several options above to work with for ships and you can generally use no squads, light squads, or moderate squads. Tagge doesn't do enough for carriers or squadrons (he does literally nothing for squadrons) to justify heavy squadrons when you have better commanders for that.


  1. I'm only a little disappointed with this article in that I was really hoping to find a legitimate reason to utilize Tagge as a commander, over virtually anyone else. Turns out my overall opinion is seconded by you, and that Tagge is incredibly circumstantial for getting 25 points worth of use due to his activation windows. Turns 4 and 6 would have been preferable, but even then a very tough sell. I DO agree however that when more token-spending upgrades become available, his stock value may rise significantly.

    1. I don't like coming to the conclusion that something just flat-out isn't that good. Even with some options that I consider to be not exactly tournament-caliber (for example, most Tarkin fleets), there's still room for that option to be used well casually or at least in a second-tier capacity. Unfortunately, Tagge just... isn't good. Maybe one day he will be, but for now it's a pretty gloomy forecast for him.

  2. Controlling tempo is key to making Tagge work. Which ship is the best in the game at controlling tempo? Interdictor.
    Am I on to something here?

    1. Probably not, given how expensive and otherwise-not-very-effective a speed control Interdictor is. Sorry. Tagge would be a little bit more appealing as a Rebel, I think, but Imperials just don't support him well.

    2. I never specified a speed controll Interdictor. I was thinking more of objective/deployment controll and a bid for second player.

    3. If you want to, give it a shot, but you're still likely hitting the Tagge problem of his round 3 trigger happens too soon (as you've slowed down the enemy/dragged the scoring obstacles closer to you, so round 2 fighting will be minimal) and his round 5 trigger happens too late.

    4. I also want to make it clear I'm not trying to be mean: I've got a bit of a contrarian streak and so I'm among many who have tried Tagge and found him pretty poor and would like to not see others smash their heads against the same brick wall. This is coming from the guy who mainlined Ozzel successfully for a year and a half at competitive events and who won Adepticon on Saturday with an Interdictor, haha, so there are definitely options that are more competitive than the wider internet groupthink would have you believe, but I think it's going to require some major Imperial release to potentially make Tagge one of them.

    5. Yeah I just realized that the whole objective/deployment manipulation thing doesn't really benefit Tagge.

      I am probably on to something but that something just isn't something that makes Tagge work.

      With that said I will probably keep smashing my head against the brick wall that is Tagge every now and then.

      Thanks for taking the time to reply, you guys are awesome