Thursday, December 17, 2020

Know Your Enemy/Commander's Corner: Admiral Gial Ackbar

That's right, he has a first name.  It's not just "Admiral."  And he's today's Know Your Commander!
And that's Carrie Fisher's daughter on the right there
Make sure to note the timing issues here!
So before you make your attack, you need to choose where you're attacking from.  Which also means you don't get to see your initial side roll BEFORE you use his powers.  But for adding sheer raw power to your dice, Ackbar is your man.... fish.... Mon Calamari.  2 Red Dice can turn ship damage output from "good" to "substantial."  You have the opportunity to get 4 extra damage if you fire out of your sides (realistically it'll probably be 2, but spikes happen!)

The ships he uses get to potentially CRAZY damage outputs (you can turn MC30s and MC80s into near ISD levels of dice) and just knowing you can get there changes your opponent's entire mindset when calculating where to move.  I personally wouldn't move CLOSER to that HMC80 side arc with the Demolisher if you're not going to kill the HMC80 this turn!  Usually about once a game (unless your dice are running super cold) you'll fire off a side shot that will cause a ship to evaporate.  There was an Arquittens, and then: there wasn't.  Ackbar ships with the right builds can put out significant damage into your opponent.
I'm physically possible!  And that's terrifying!

The OTHER thing to note is how Dice Addition works in regards to Ackbar's ability.  BEFORE the dice addition (Ackbar) step, you first check to see if you have dice in the pool to attack at that range.  If there are none, you don't get to add.  Zero stays zero.  See the example below.
Pictured for the Rebel side: A Combat GR75, a CR90A, and a Torpedo (blue dice) MC30
Based on the picture, it sure looks like that ISD is in for a bad time, doesn't it? Too bad the Rebel player is throwing ZERO dice against it.  The CR90A is in red range (pictured), but there's a station in the way, obstructing his shot.  So 1 red dice becomes zero red dice, which means: no Ackbar powers.  The Combat GR75 has ZERO dice in its side arc, which means zero stays zero, and no Ackbar powers.  As for the MC30, that's not obstructed? Sure looks tempting, but it's also in red dice range (I turned off the overlapping fields, but I promise it's in there).  I have an open shot, but I have no way to get an INITIAL shot.  Zero red dice (we'll talk about upgrading those in a second) in the side means: yup, you guessed it, zero Ackbar ability.  Keep this all in mind driving your ships and piloting.  If these ships were in blue range, then 2 minus 1 would be 1 for the CR90, and then you CAN add Ackbar's dice into the side.  This works the exact same as the concentrate fire rules, only it's an extra Ackbar dice.  If you don't have range, you can't add Ackbar or concentrate fire.

A related point for our newest defense token, Salvo.  Let's snip right from the RRG!
I uploaded salvo.png, not sato.png right?
As we note on Ackbar's card, if you use him, you can only attack from your sides this round.  Which means if your opponent shoots you in the face, you can't Salvo him back (attack range and line of sight are treated as the same).  Salvo is an attack and it is coming from the hull zone that was just attacked, and since you gave up the face shot....  Amusingly, if you have not activated Ackbar yet, though, you CAN Salvo like crazy.  He doesn't turn off the front arc shots until you make the decision to do so.  Which can cause either some fun timing activation issues or being unable to Salvo back depending on your choices.  I don't have the experience with Ackbar and Salvo, but my gut reaction is "I wouldn't try to build it into your Ackbar lists at the moment."  Prove me wrong, readers!

Common Ships
Before we begin talking about Ackbar's ships, we need to talk about the "reason" for Ackbar's ability; why his ability is the way it is.  In the Expanded Universe Books....
Want to hear about my DnD character, too? She's a human druid who...
Yeah, I know, nerdy, but let me finish, it actually relates.  So there's a thing called the Ackbar Slash he came up with, where you sail a ship in between two other ships.  You can fire ALL your guns at their ships and they (supposedly) have to be more conservative since they don't want to miss you and hit their own ships.  This (in my opinion) is the origin of Ackbar's ability.  So why did I tell you that? Well, clearly the strongest way to use Ackbar's ability is to get to fire out of BOTH side arcs at the same time!  This is a VERY easy (if you play it badly) way to result in you getting your ships killed by firing at two bigger ships.
On the left, we have most likely 2 dead Arquitens.  On the RIGHT, we have a dead MC80.
So while it's super tempting to try to sail in between 2 ISDs in order to kill them both, the SMARTER plan is Gunnery Teaming your ships (or Advanced Gunnery for the ones that can't take Gunnery Teams...) and only taking the damage from one of them by staying far away from the 2nd.  If you can kill one and circle in further to hit the other, go for that.  Don't double up on attacking them from their front arcs, though.  You're not going to survive, I can almost guarantee.  If you CAN land in between them where they can't really fire their front arcs at you more than once (say, if the two ISDs are far apart), go for it (keeping in mind to keep repairing OFTEN).  A good opponent won't let you do that though.  I'd view opportunities to fire out of both sides in one activation as more "great events that don't happen too often" than "something to strive for every game."
This is the much smarter way to Act-bar, yuk yuk yuk.
Because you're firing out the sides then, you're giving up any front arc damage and shots.  Sometimes that's fine as nothing was there anyways, but if you have your opponent double arced, is removing the front arc really a smart plan? Or do you roll more total dice over more total attacks (and thus stress more defense tokens) if you double arc like normal? I'm aware this doesn't feel like a great use of 38 points, but do you want to win or just fire Ackbar shots? Anyway, his preferred ships!  A defining trait for many of our Ackbar ships is that their side damage is already better than the front.  Not all of them, but it's an easier trade-off with Ackbar's ability to NOT fire their front damage in order to increase their side damage.  You want those with already good side arcs in order to turn them from "solid" to "spectacular."  I have rolled 8 dice out the side of an Assault Frigate before, and it is FUN.  You feel like an Imperial driving an ISD, I can't recommend it enough.  Anything with 4+ dice in the side is a solid Ackbar ship (so Assault Frigates or most Mon Cal ships (not the Liberty)), though you may end up adding in some CR90s or a flotilla or two in order to ensure you can fill out a list.
Adorableness in this Commander Thread, pun fully intended
Typical Fleet Building:
There's several different types of Ackbar fleets, but the best in my mind have at least 3 ships to take advantage of his ability, with at least one ship capable of putting out significant (near ISD-equivalent) levels of damage.  I usually try to squeeze in as many as possible, but that will often come at the cost of total activations, a squadron presence, or upgrades on those ships.  I'm not going to caution you towards one way or another, other than to say do what works for you.  I'd maximize both the opportunity to throw red dice and the ways to correct the dice you throw out there, just to be sure Ackbar is doing the best he can for you.  Red Dice aren't the most accurate at guaranteeing damage, so you'll need to find some ways to either reroll them or fix them.  But sometimes you roll 12 damage and an accuracy from a concentrating fire HMC80 Assault Cruiser at long range, and you get to smile as you tell that Star Destroyer you're going to use it on the Brace.

Be wary of anyone trying to disrupt your conga line.  With the fact that most Ackbar ships want side shots and their faces (MC75 excepted) are.... present, your opponent is going to be doing his best to lurk in that spot, where you can't add in 2 red dice.  Expect to navigate a lot, but you can put out some mean side damage without even needing to concentrate fire with the ships.  Though, if you can....

Final Thoughts
Wow, I'm surprised.  Somehow I made it through the ENTIRE Ackbar article without making any jokes about-
Woop woop woop woop!
Nah, I couldn't do it.  RIP Erik Bauersfeld, you were a defining voice of a lot of our childhoods.  Raise a glass of Fish Juice in his honor.  As for this article: it's a wrap.

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