Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Best Defensive Retrofits....

Well, it's not a good Offensive Retrofit, I can tell you that.  Let's hit the jump and take a look!
There was a time the Bears Defense actually struck fear into the hearts of men.  I miss 2005.
Before we begin, I'll point out that technically none of these are BAD.  When I express an opinion on a card, it's more of an opportunity cost and what benefits the card provides to you as compared to some of these other ones.  In some fleets and roles, all these Defensive Retrofits have benefits, but often times some will just make more sense than others.
In this slide, class, you can see Rebel hero Arvel Crynyd blowing up the shield generators on the Executor!
So while ECM (below) lets you use tokens that are already spent and is a great defense against huge damage spikes with an accuracy that wrecks your ability to use the tokens you want when you want them, Advanced Projectors (AP) is a much stronger defense against fighters.  When you resolve the Redirect token, you can choose to redirect however you want and wherever you want on your ship.  Fighters hitting you in the side? Redirect to the other one.  Got into the front arc of an ISD with Advanced Gunnery? Redirect EVERYWHERE.  AP lets you make sure that all of your shields are gone before you start taking damage onto the ship.

AP is great, however, against long range red dice attacks and/or fighters that try to take out one side's shields and start firing into that side with more damage.  It also skates around Norra's crit; if the defending hull zone that they're attacking has no shields, it can't lose any!  You're still getting attacked, though, and potentially in trouble, so, uhh, be careful with that.  They may just start resolving the regular crit, or hitting other hull zones while still remaining at distance 1 of Norra, letting them use her ability.
It's about this intelligent, too.
In the new Armada 1.5, XI7 turbolasers somewhat counters AP.  You can redirect one to every hull zone.... but only one TOTAL damage can get redirected to that hullzone (for a total of 3 redirected damage).  Given the myriad of good turbolaser options and the number of ships who'd prefer something else over XI7s (especially if they have squadrons), don't discount AP because you worry that your opponents will bring nothing but XI7 turbolasers equipped.  The basic guideline of AP vs ECM: if you fear fighters more, Advanced Projectors means they have to get rid of everything before they can hit your ship.  If you fear accuracies locking down your important defense tokens, Electronic Countermeasures allows you to be able to use them, provided it's not already tapped.

AP is great on ships with a good chunk of shields and multiple redirects to use them with.  So MC30s and Arquitens are the main uses.  It's an OK choice on Assault HMC80s as well, but I default to other options with the second slot there.  Potentially with Agate on there to just keep spreading the damage around to your shields.
That's right, I'm in here too! The Pete Best of this section
Alright, look, Cluster Bombs is a thing.  You CAN use it, I've read reports from people who do.  The way it's timed, the squadron does NOT get to spend defense tokens at all.  So when Tycho throws down at you, you can hit him with 4 potential damage he can't Scatter away.  Sounds super great, right? But then you read that one word in there, DISCARD.  Yup, this is a once per game ability.  For 5 points on a once per game ability, no matter how crippling it can be, you need to be dang sure that it's going to make an impact.  If Norra has 5 or 6 health, this card is worthless and doesn't kill her.  If you roll 3 accuracies and a hit, it doesn't kill her.  If she has 3 health, and you roll 2 accuracies? Great, didn't kill her.  Combine THAT all with the fact that it's ONE squadron, not once per each squadron in arc, and there's no way I can recommend you take this when you're first starting out.  Take LITERALLY any other card on this page in that slot and you're probably better off.

For you rebels (not Rebels, haha) who want to make this card your THING, well let me say that you're going to need to bring these in multiples and you'll want to make sure that any squadron you hit goes DOWN and doesn't get to stick around at half health to finish you off.  Make sure you're flakking heavily, and you should still (just like Raiders!) bring in a SFC (or more preferably MFC) to deal with squadrons.  I've seen people take 1 of these on their big ship and expect it to solve all their squadron problems.  Don't do that; this card (and all these retrofits for that matter) are attempts at damage prevention.  It won't solve all your problems but it should help you out in some fashion.  If you go up against a squadron presence, flak heavily, flak often, and move fast towards taking out their carriers.  MC30s and CR90s are where I've seen this used well, I leave any other attempts as an exercise to the reader.
Mark, have you tried NOT cheating on your girlfriend?
Early Warning System (EWS) is exactly the same cost as ECM (below).  EWS makes one hull zone of your choice obstructed.  This doesn't stack with other obstruction effects (Cracken, obstacles), but it does mean EVERYTHING (not Jaina's Light) rolls one less dice against you with it.  It's REALLY good on the front arcs of ISDs/Acclamators or the side arcs of HMC80s (those big arcs that multiple fighters and ships want to fire dice into).  It softly shuts down a LOT of squadron attacks, and can potentially ruin any chance Yavaris had of getting to extra-strength attack with the squadrons it activates.  It's more fun combined with your own SFC in order to ensure that you've neutered a squadron heavy fleet flying right at you.

So how do you pick which one to use, EWS or ECM? If you fear a squadron heavy fleet or a bunch of tiny attacks from CR90 or Raider swarms coming right for you, EWS (when the hull zone is picked correctly) will counter them.  If you fear fighting large ships that would lock down your defense tokens, preventing their usage while they fire large attacks into you, well then I suggest ECM.  Both have their uses, and while EWS showed up more recently, it's definitely a good card, that I can tell.  Romodi does NOT see through it and get his red dice added in, unless of course you're also obstructed by a rock or other ship.
That burn was so good I need to brace myself for the response!
Electronic Countermeasures (ECM to his friends) is an old staple, and a sorely needed one.  When your opponent locks down a token you badly needed (looking at you, brace!) you can still use it ONCE.  You have to exhaust ECM to use it, but if you have any way of untapping things (Interdictor title) you can untap it and reuse the token again.  Otherwise, the new 1.5 version requires that you spend an Engineering token at the end of the round to untap it.  ECM is great on those big ships (H1MC80, ISD, MC75) that fear getting their Brace token locked down when an ISD or an MC30 with H9 Turbolasers shows up to ruin their day.  It's also great on medium sized ships (Assault Frigates, Tua-led VSDs) if you're using them as the backbone of your fleet.  Put it on the ship that you don't want facing a situation where a lot of damage killing it is one you need/want to prevent but can't.  I like it on Assault Frigates just because their tokens are so generalist that you want the ability to use them at any time, and having one accuracy in the pool can reduce your ability to reduce the damage you're taking.

Generally don't put this on MC30s or CR90s, their defense token suite is meant to keep them out of trouble as much as you can.  MC30s have redundant tokens, and CR90s are meant to be redirecting onto their shields and staying alive that way more than anything.  I wouldn't put this on an Arquitens, you have 2 redirects to push damage around your shields anyways.

Keep in mind, though, that Demolisher side arcs 90 percent of the time are just 4 black dice (someone runs Glad-IIs, I swear!) and that ECM doesn't help you here, nor does Intel Officer.  But against ISDs with H9s? Yup, stay gold, Pony Boy. You can spend red/activated tokens with this, they're just gone forever after that.  You'll need to evaluate your game state and location of your ship as to whether that's worth it or not.  You'll also need to know how bad the attacks against you are going to be in order to use this.  For example, the front arc of a generic MC30 is a blue dice and 2 black dice.  If your opponent rolls hit+crit on both black dice and an accuracy on the blue, bracing can take you down to only 2 damage.  But he still has that side arc of the MC30 (2 blue, 3 black dice) to roll.  That has a much bigger potential of hurting, so I might save the ECM use for that attack.

With the fact that you're going to need to spend a token to untap it at the end of the turn, you'll need to take that into account as well as to whether you're going to spend it at all.  I can honestly say that I've taken the new version on an Assault Frigate for the inevitable one turn I've wandered into danger and need it for the brace, and I've been happy with my results.  If you can fuel it more often, go for it.
Load up the cannons with munitions we're resupplying!
Wave 9 brings us Reactive Gunnery, the card meant to somewhat invalidate my starting joke above. I ain't changing it, so just accept it.  The cheapest defensive retrofit and the most interesting, as it's not actually possible to get a full and accurate count of how much damage it prevents.  Fun notes:
  • You have to exhaust the card and a readied defense token.  Which means if you get hit with Boarding Troopers before you get to defend, you can't use those red (exhausted) tokens.
  • You can't resolve the Salvo more than once per attack, which means you probably shouldn't equip this to anything with a Salvo already.
  • You resolve the Salvo effect instead of that token's effect.  Which means you can't use this with a token you're using on another effect; I can't use one of the MC30's two evades to evade with and then use the other for this.  I CAN however, use an evade as an evade and a redirect as a "salvo."  I just then can't also redirect as well.
So what ships want this bad boy? You want to look at 2 qualifications.  First, a good rear arc of at least 2 but preferably 3 dice (with the ability to get some in red range preferred), and you want those with varied defense tokens/those that are better at different points of the game.  Basically, contains make great "salvo" tokens for a bit, and then you can use redirects when you run out of shields on your ship (and need the contains to actually do their job).  If you can reduce the incoming damage enough from other means (evades and redirects), I can see potentially using this on a brace token as well.

That's a lot of lasers coming in for recovering one shield to make up for....
The most expensive right now is Redundant Shields, which is a Modification.  That means no Spinal Turbolasers, no High Capacity Ion Turbines, and no Expanded Launchers on the same ship as these.  Be careful with whatever fleet builder you use, they may not recognize that fact (Most do now, but just in case....)!  Relatively simple, it gains you one shield back at the start of the Status Phase.  When is the Status Phase? Technically, at the end of the turn, after the Squadron Phase (I know I'm guilty of doing it at the start of the next turn's Command Phase, but it happens at the end of the turn when you're resetting everything).

Redundant Shields SEEMS good, but the problem I have with it (and that most people have with it) comes down to cost and opportunity.  Your ships are likely going to get shot on turns 2-5, maybe 2-6 (turn 1 if you're fighting an Onager potentially).  But this only brings shields back if you need to bring shields back; if you aren't attacked until turn 3 or 4, that's several turns of it not doing anything.  And for 8 points, you want it to be useful every turn.  Compare this to Shields to Maximum! on the Pelta, which gives EVERY ship a shield back when it activates.  For Redundant Shields, you need to survive the turn, which may or may not even happen.  Plus you have the fact that if you're not dead on turn 6, extra shields after everything has attacked don't make you more alive (and also don't help for Opening Salvo points!).  So it's really mostly useful turns 2 through 5, and only if you've been shot turn 2.  2 points a turn isn't bad for a free shield, but you have to ensure you were both damaged and then survive for it to really have been worth it, I feel.  If you take 15 damage from the front arc of an ISD, one regenerated shield doesn't help you as much at the end of the turn as some of these other options.

It's an intriguing card, and it's not horrifically bad; it's just that I've found that all the other defensive retrofits do much more for the ships of mine that they can go on.  One well timed Engineering command can move shields around as needed, too, which doesn't cost me 8 points of usage.  I really can't recommend it right now for anyone.  If you're determined to, MC30s or CR90s, the ships that desperately need shields to stay anywhere near alive.  But that's 8 points....

As an Imperial, however, Jerjerrod is a thing.  A very good thing who technically can take use of this turn 1 if so desired.  And with all the hard turning Jerry wants, it's a fair enough upgrade for your Star Destroyer of Choice (be it Imperial or Minister Tua-led VSDs).  You can also put it on an Arquitens, who also really want shields to stay alive.  Really, really, really want.  Of course, the Cymoon ISD (with a Fleet Command slot!) or Chimaera title is something that Jerjerrod can use (and WOULD much rather use Shields to Maximum!), so sadly back to the binder, Redundant Shields. I had intriguing luck with it and Projection Experts together in a Bail fleet, but that means it's on a Consular in the back.  I'm aware I'm justifying it, but I might start there if you're determined to make this A Thing.  Generally, pick another defensive retrofit on this page.
Can you believe I cost the same as Cluster Bombs? What a clusterf-
Reinforced Blast Doors lets you discard 3 face down damage cards at the start of the Ship Phase (ie after you've assigned dials).  Has to be then, so you can't use it when your ship activates later in the turn.  They have to be face-down, but for the cost, this is one of my favorite cards.  What this effectively does is bump up every ship's health.  MC80s now have 11 health, ISDs have 14 (17 under Motti! SEVENTEEN! That's ludicrous and hilarious).  Also hilarious is when you use this on a ship that had the Boarding Engineers all ready to go, but now have no cards to turn over, sadly.

When to choose the blast doors over the other ones? When you want health.  Lots, and lots, and lots of health (third lots is only for Motti players.  Again, SEVENTEEN HEALTH for 5 points).  As right now the Assault MC80 is the only ship that can take 2 defensive retrofits, pairing Reinforced Blast Doors with either ECM or EWS is great times and makes sure that your ship stays alive.  It's a LOT of points, but in the end, if you live, that's a lot of points you didn't give your opponent.  Stay alive.


  1. You can't equip the same upgrade twice. So no double RBD MC80 assaults.

    1. True. The section John wrote was a little unclear with its pronoun usage of "them" (meaning "defensive retrofits", but it could be interpreted to mean "reinforced blast doors"), so I cleaned it up slightly to make it clear. Thanks for letting us know.

  2. You should mention that EWS used against superior positions is pretty good ;)

  3. Layout nitpick (on a good article). You have positioned EWS before ECM and then refer EWS "is exactly the same cost as ECM (above)" - except it's below :)

  4. A good strategy to make efficient use of
    Redundant Shields is to use it on small-medium base ships and coupled with Auxilliary Shields Team. Spend a Engineer Dial on Turn 1 to move shields to your sides and then use Redudant Shields from Round 1 onwards! Its really fun on Command Arquitens, Consulars and CR90s!