Monday, December 28, 2020

Boarding team upgrades (weapon team + offensive retrofit)

Given the unique nature of multiple-upgrade-slot upgrades, it felt appropriate to give them their own articles rather than trying to include them here and there in the other upgrade articles. Hence, this will be where all the boarding teams will be discussed, which are the upgrades that consume both a weapon team and offensive retrofit slot. Let's get to it!

Pictured: Vader in the middle of discarding the Raymus Antilles upgrade card.
All boarding teams have the same trigger and targeting restriction: "When you reveal a command, you may discard a squadron dial or token and this card to choose 1 enemy ship at close range." A few things to note:
  • This trigger window is upon the reveal command dial step, so you may discard a squadron command dial you just revealed if you wish.
    • Obviously, it's generally preferable to discard a token when you can instead of a whole dial.
    • Tokens are discarded, not spent. This is generally a meaningless distinction except for effects that work on spent tokens, like Wulff Yularen, who can "save" a spent token but not a discarded token.
    • Discarding a squadron token or dial doesn't count as a resolution of that command, so you can still resolve a squadron command using a remaining dial or token or from an upgrade like the Pursuant title.
      • Because the squadron command is resolved after you reveal your command dial, the boarding team triggers first and squadrons would be activated afterwards.
  • Remember that you can premeasure at any time, so make sure the enemy ship you want to hit is at close range before attempting to board them!
It's also important to note that these upgrades fill in both a weapon team and offensive retrofit slot, so you need to have a ship with both those slots to even consider using a boarding team upgrade. I should also note that many factions have their own unique boarding teams and those are now located in those faction-specific upgrade articles. The generic boarding teams are still here, however.

All right everyone, line up in order of most to least facial hair! This is the sacred way of engineers.
The Boarding Engineers, per the FAQ, resolve in three steps once they get to the enemy ship:
  1. Look at all of the facedown cards currently assigned to the target ship.
  2. Choose a number of them equal to your engineering value.
  3. Flip those cards over, one at a time, and resolve their effects.
Unfortunately, I find Boarding Engineers are a bit niche. They need to not only be set up to board their target, but they also need their target to have enough facedown damage cards to make their use effective and moreso effective than using the points and/or upgrade slots in some other fashion. It's a lot to have going right all at once. It's not too tough to use them against a near-dead ship with a lot of damage cards on it but that can mean holding them back for use later to flip some cards; it's usually better to use that same ship earlier to contribute to combat and make that enemy ship dead instead of doing cute card-flipping tricks.

That said, I think they definitely have a stronger case when fielded with a few other fleet elements:
  • Dodonna does amazing things for Boarding Engineers because when you hit the enemy ship for a face-up card, he can choose crits that do something nasty and then flip back over (like Structural Damage or Comms Noise or Injured Crew), which allows you to reuse them with Boarding Engineers later.
  • Anything that gets damage cards to sneak through shields and stick to ships early makes Boarding Engineers better and less of a "win more" card. Primarily this means cards that can deal damage through shields, like Luke Skywalker, Assault Proton Torpedoes, and Proximity Mines, although you can also help a bit with some well-timed ramming.
In short, they're for the most part a Rebel upgrade used in Dodonna fleets as Rebels have the most and best tools to make them worth using.

"The artist didn't give the rest of us eyes so we're counting on you, Greg!"
The Boarding Troopers are a bit more straightforward: they choose and spend X different defense tokens (you can't double-choose a "number up to your squadron value," therefore the choices must be separate). As a reminder, spending a defense token flips a green (readied) token to red (exhausted) and spending a red token discards it entirely. So you can discard enemy defense tokens that are already exhausted when using your Boarding Troopers.

Boarding Troopers are a circumstantially powerful upgrade. If you're particularly lucky/well-coordinated you'll be able to discard one or more already-exhausted defense tokens but typically Boarding Troopers will exhaust otherwise-green defense tokens prior to your attack(s). For that reason, it's most appealing on close-ranged ships, especially those that like to double-arc (as it ensures debuffed defense tokens can be used a maximum of one-time, sort of like a one-shot Intel Officer on steroids).

Overall, I find Boarding Troopers are better than Boarding Engineers because they don't need as any things to go right to make them useful. In particular, there's no desire to hold them back for later - they want to mess with defense tokens ASAP, preferably in combination with several upcoming attacks, which helps destroy enemy ships much more quickly than flipping damage cards usually will.


  1. Boarding engineers might aswell be stapled to my hammerheads, they always hit their mark and provide good results for my games. Never had any luck with the troopers as rebels they seem like an ISD imperial thing.

    1. In general the Troopers are thus far very much an Imperial thing, although I know John has had some limited success trying them on Torp Hammerheads with External Racks and Task Force Organa for his rerolls. When they get to their big External Racks power turn, they pop the Troopers to tap out the brace on whatever they're going after and then let rip with 6 dice. I wouldn't say it's amazing, but it's better than you might think at first.

      I would also agree that Boarding Engineers are likely best on Hammerheads at the moment, but they count on lining up a lot of things to work successfully. So far I haven't been terribly impressed with them, but that may change at some point.

  2. > Boarding Troopers are a circumstantially powerful upgrade, most notoriously when used in combination with the Avenger ISD title

    So with the 1.5ed Avenger being useless, the Boarding Troopers lost their best use case? Are there any combinations you'd recommend in lieu of the Avenger?

    1. Good catch, I've removed that segment (because you are correct - Avenger was nerfed into uselessness). They're still worth considering on short-ranged ISDs like the Kuat and ISD-I as well as the MC-75, especially if you can double-arc with them reliably.