First and foremost, after much fanboy despair, Thrawn has finally arrived:
|"I swear to God if someone else asks why I look so blue I'm going to space them."|
- Remember that you can't resolve two command dials of the same kind together (there's no mechanism for doing so at the moment; we are allowed to do dial only, token only, and dial+token and that's it), so Thrawn is going to reward coordinating your whole fleet to not be doing a specific command on a given round to maximize his benefit. That feels appropriate for a master strategist.
- Because larger ships have stronger Squadron and Engineering values overall, Thrawn feels like he's going to have stronger synergy with medium and large ships than most commanders. Given the Empire's heavier ships are often wishing they could do multiple things a turn, Thrawn grants them their wish.
- In particular, I could see Thrawn threading the needle for VSDs and ISDs by allowing them to act as both a battleship and a carrier simultaneously, where previously they could be a bit uncomfortable having to determine how much to sacrifice of one role to perform the other. For example, you could choose all 3 of his commands as squadron commands and then just blaze forward using your VSDs and ISDs as battleships who happen to also be commanding a huge pile of squadrons from turns 2 through 4.
- He of course has a lot of potential uses, but the synergy with big ships is what struck me initially.
- Thrawn is a pretty competitive price for a more expensive commander. Compared to Grand Moff Tarkin, Thrawn definitely seems to be priced more reasonably. In general, as the game has matured it feels like FFG has readjusted some of their points pricing models and discrepancies between earlier and later waves seem to bear out that newer upgrades are usually cheaper than earlier upgrades that did something similar but were rarely taken.
|So you gave an Imperial class Star Destroyer a tribal tattoo?|
- This is the first time they've ever packaged squadrons and a ship together other than the core set. Hopefully the Mandalorian Gauntlets are all right, but I'm concerned that if they're too good then you may find yourself wondering if it's worth buying another $50 star destroyer mostly for the 2 squadrons...
- The Gauntlets are 7 hull squadrons.
- The ace Gauntlet is a Rogue with probably Escort, but the symbol is a little weird. It's possible it's a new keyword, but we're not entirely sure. The generic has his keyword icons obscured by the ace.
- There's a second Imperial commander hiding under Thrawn. Sneaky sneaky!
- We can't quite tell what defense token the ace Gauntlet squadron gets because it's hiding under the regular ISD token suite. My money's on a brace because a scatter on a 7 hull escort squadron is pretty busted.
- The silhouette (the shape in the middle of the front arc) for the new ISD is the same as the old ISD, which means you can equip already-published ISD titles (like Relentless or Avenger) to the new ISDs and vice versa, as they're the same ship type.
- The Darth Vader boarding upgrade is used just like the Boarding Troopers and such, but he discards one non-commander upgrade from the ship he boards. Take out your enemy's Electronic Countermeasures or Intel Officer or whatnot. Fun!
- You can see the new fleet command upgrade, "Intensify...", which is presumably "Intensify Forward Firepower!", which I strongly assume is the fleet command upgrade associated with the concentrate fire command tokens and would boost ship offensive output in some fashion.
- There also appear to be some "Seventh Fleet" generic titles to the left of the unique title we can see in the spread.
- Otherwise it seems like the expansion mostly comes with unique officers and two new defensive retrofits.
|Is Cymoon some kind of pokemon? Probably not, but maybe.|
- The ISD-II is 8 more points (120 versus 112)
- The ISD-II has more total dice in its front battery (8 due to 4 blue and 4 red), although the Cymoon is short by 1 die it has 1 more red die in the front.
- Conversely, the Cymoon changes one of its side arc dice to blue compared to the ISD-II's 2 red 2 blue battery, so while it's superior at long range in the front, it's inferior to the ISD-II at long range in the sides.
- The ISD-II has 2 blue flak compared to the Cymoon's 2 black flak. This is something of a wash - the blue dice have better range and you can use them better against scatter aces (due to the chance of rolling an accuracy + damage), but the 2 black do better average damage (1.5 versus 1).
- The ISD-II has 1 higher squadron value (4 versus 3).
- The Cymoon loses a defensive retrofit and ion cannon slot to pick up a second turbolaser slot and a fleet command slot.
- Losing the defensive retrofit slot hurts for a large ship, but Minister Tua can always help there if necessary (although it means giving up Wulff for the fleet command...).
- Losing the ion cannon slot makes it more prone to getting hosed by bad red dice rolls due to not being able to equip Leading Shots. Some means of granting rerolls/mitigating bad dice (like Vader or Dual Turbolaser Turrets in one turbolaser slot or heck, maybe even Veteran Gunners) will be in high demand.
- Gaining the second turbolaser slot makes it the first Imperial ship with two such slots and allows for some long-ranged slap-downs. You can pair a +dice Modification turbolaser (like Quad Battery Turrets or Spinal Armament or the like) with a defense token hosing turbolaser (like XI7 Turbolasers or H9 Turbolasers) to threaten enemies from quite a ways out.
- Gaining the fleet command slot is pretty huge, and with Wulff Yularen in the officer seat you can keep feeding your fleet command its desired token all game once you gain the token on the first turn. That's pretty damn good.
- It also makes me wonder if Tarkin could see some more play. With Tarkin spamming the same token, you can feed your fleet command upgrade for a given effect and then get the tokens on the rest of your fleet as well. A beefcake fleet constantly regenerating shields from both Shields to Maximum! and free repair tokens can take a lot of punishment (especially when combined with actual repair dials). Combining a nav token and the Entrapment Formation! effect allows your whole fleet a free "fake Ozzel" 2 speed change every turn while they focus on other commands. The uses are potentially quite strong, although the cost is expensive.
|Kuat did you say? You talking to me?|
- The Kuat Refit is 2 points more expensive (112 versus 110).
- The Kuat Refit has an identical front batteries to the ISD-I and its side batteries are different only in that the ISD-I trades out a red die for a blue die (2 red 2 black versus 1 red 1 blue 2 black). The rear battery for the Kuat trades out one blue die for a black die (so the Kuat rainbow compared to 2 blue 1 red for the ISD-I).
- With the blue die in the side arcs, Leading Shots becomes much more appealing on a Kuat ISD compared to an ISD-I for some easy dice rerolls (say, for your black dice that want to trigger your black crit ordnance upgrade...).
- The flak dice are also the same
- The Kuat loses 2 Squadron value, which makes it pretty miserable as a carrier for its cost.
- It also makes Boarding Troopers a lot less appealing compared to an ISD-I as you can only exhaust two tokens. Against heavier ships (with brace+2 redirect or with the LMC80, 2 braces+redirect), that means one of the important defense tokens will still be green.
- The Kuat gains a defensive retrofit and ordnance slot in exchange for an offensive retrofit and turbolaser slot. This has a lot of repercussions:
- Losing a turbolaser slot means you can't equip defense-token hosing turbolasers like XI7s, which could help ISD-Is one-shot smaller craft relying on redirects. It also means no Quad Battery Turrets, which could help to add a blue die to the side arcs and the like.
- Losing a second offensive retrofit slot effectively shoots down any dream the Kuat would have of being a battle carrier like the ISD-I can be, but at Squadrons 2 it never really wanted that job anyways.
- Gaining a defensive retrofit slot for a close-ranged brawler is simply amazing. ISDs getting into close range take a lot of fire when doing so and a defensive retrofit slot really helps them survive through things that would trouble an ISD-I doing the same kind of thing.
- Gaining an ordnance slot is also amazing. I've heard complaints numerous times (sometimes coming from yours truly) that the ISD-I would simply be more fun if it had an ordnance slot and lo and behold now we have such a thing. This enables the Kuat ISD to work well with Screed, and it's a good candidate for black crit ordnance upgrades to just pour in ridiculous amounts of damage with Ordnance Experts and/or Leading Shots along for the ride for the rerolls.
Fun side note: this is the first ship in the game to have both an ordnance and ion cannon slot. You can potentially pull some silly nonsense off with a black crit ordnance upgrade and blue crit ion cannon upgrade along with Fire Control Team. I wouldn't count on that kind of thing unless you're running Screed or Vader for extra dice control (as that combination consumes your ion cannon slot and weapon team slot so you can't use Ordnance Experts or Leading Shots for rerolls to make those crits more reliable), but it could be fun even if it's not good.
In short, good job FFG. These new ISD builds look pretty neat and it seems they're not going to completely replace our earlier ISD options so much as offer new flavors. Given the Empire is strongly associated with the Imperial class Star Destroyer, seeing these beastly triangles on more tables instead of adding yet more types of ships feels like the right move.
|As the Winston Churchill of the Rebellion, I like to think Admiral Raddus also liked dirty jokes and cigars.|
- At 26 points, he's very affordable.
- His surprise attack ship can be any ship. Let me repeat that: unlike Hyperspace Assault, you can surprise jump in any ship you want. This is going to be bananas with large ships, particularly LMC80s with Gunnery Teams, which is exactly the kind of ship that can do crazy amounts of damage when deployed in just the right place (often on a flank).
- By deploying the surprise ship at the start of the round, you will get to select all of its command dial stack during the upcoming Command Phase, which gives you a lot of control over custom-selecting what you need for your big bad.
- Only a tiny portion of the surprise ship's base needs to be at distance 1 of the helper ship, which gives you a lot of options for how to deploy it.
- The surprise ship can't be the first ship to activate that round. That means if you're player one, it can be your second ship activation but not your first. If you're player two, it can be the first ship you activate, because it won't be the first ship to activate that round (whatever your opponent activated first is that ship).
- The deployment disadvantage isn't that big of a deal upon further consideration - normally I save my biggest scariest ships for the last deployments. With Raddus, you're putting your biggest scariest ship off to the side so the end effect of "where in the world is that big combat ship going to be?" is maintained until it finally shows up on the table.
- The activation disadvantage is mildly troubling, but you're likely dropping your surprise ship by turn 3 at the latest, so it won't be a disadvantage once serious combat begins.
- This is also a great counter-play to enemy fleets with a single ship that's hoping to wipe out your strongest asset, such as a Clonisher triple-tap fleet or a Boarding Troopers Avenger ISD fleet. You simply use Raddus to position your big bad out of harm's way and let it gobble up the rest of the enemy fleet while the super aggro combo ship concerns itself with cheaper less satisfying prey.
- For extra fun, get yourself behind the super ship in question and laugh all the way to the bank as the predator becomes the prey.
I'm really pleasantly surprised to see both spoiled commanders seem to synergize well with larger ships. We've seen the pendulum swinging back towards giving some love to the big guys lately, and it's welcome.
|Did your fish ship put on a gun girdle?|
- It has 9 hull, the highest thus far available to the Rebels.
- It has 4 front shields and 3 shields everywhere else, making it barely less robust than an HMC80 (which has 8 hull but 4/4/4/3 shields, so one total point more if all shields get used) but still pretty durable.
- Its batteries are very interesting. For the front and side arcs it has 5 dice total in every arc, with 2 blue dice in each arc. The front has 3 black and the sides have 3 red. This makes it a decent broadside ship with a nasty surprise should anyone try to jam up the front arc; jamming up the front arc is an overall good tactic against HMC80s but you'll need something durable to handle that task against an MC75.
- Its front arc is larger than average for most Rebel ships. Whether this proves to be an advantage of disadvantage is hard to say without knowing more about the ship.
- It has a blue+red rear arc. Not great, but rear arcs seldom are.
- It has black+blue flak. Fairly standard for a large ship.
|I am profoundly impressed that they fit all this text on one tiny card.|
- Remember set-aside stuff doesn't get deployed. In the case of a small ship (which is normally great deployment fodder), this hurts more than Raddus' large ship being set aside.
- You can only store a small ship with a Command value of 1. So you can't sneak in an MC30, Pelta, or Nebulon-B. Right now you could use it on a CR90, Hammerhead, or GR75.
- It triggers at the start of a round, just like Raddus does. So you could hypothetically use Raddus to teleport in the Profundity and then the Profundity could drop off its passenger, as you would determine the order they trigger in.
- Conversely, the Profundity can drop off its cargo, which is then used as a reference ship to drop Raddus' surprise ship, giving it a lot of potential reach to show up someplace unexpected.
- If this becomes a thing, I want it to be called "Rebel Russian Nesting Dolls."
- For extra fun, use Rapid Launch Bays to bring along squadrons too!
- This is not a good plan, but it is a funny plan.
- You can transfer an available commander and/or officer from the Profundity to the smaller ship when it jettisons its cargo ship.
- This is going to cause a lot of questions I suspect, especially due to the "(if able)" text. I initially thought you could do some sneaky shenanigans by sending your commander onto a lifeboat flotilla despite the errata, but flotillas cannot equip commanders, so that would be illegal. Similarly, you couldn't equip an extra officer to a ship whose officer slot is already filled (because you wouldn't be "able" to equip it). Therefore it seems mostly like a flavor element of the upgrade (abandon ship!) more than something you can really plan on breaking the game with.
- Given it's 7 points and can only store a small Command 1 ship, I'm iffier on this one but I'd like to see how it plays out on the table. The main question you need to answer for this upgrade is "is spending 7 points to do this better than just putting the ship on the table normally?" This question is pretty similar to Rapid Launch Bays' question about squadrons transported similarly and the answer is often "no." Small Command 1 ships often don't have much trouble getting themselves to where they want to be and the extra activation/deployment early on helps a lot too.
- If you were looking for a good cargo friend, I'd recommend something designed for more up-close combat, like a CR90B with SW-7 Ion Batteries (you can set it up double-arcing something and then activate it first, basically without your opponent being able to do anything about it) or a Garel's Honor Torpedo Hammerhead. It still feels a bit too janky for me, but time will tell if that impression bears out or not.