Monday, October 30, 2017

Does Yavaris Need a Nerf?

Recently, I created a topic on the forums that spiraled out of control in my mind.  However, a comment on the thread (Hi Green Knight!) helped me create an idea for this article.
From hell's black heart I throw squadrons at thee!
Let's talk about Yavaris.
This flame war's about to get too hot to handle! Someone call Steve Buscemi!
The basic Yavaris build has been discussed to death on this site.  Heck, I recommend it to you for how to build it.  Stealing from my original B-wing article and how to use them, the way it all works together (for those of you unfamiliar with the combination)
It's a combination of all 3 things.Yavaris lets your squadrons attack twice if you don't move, which is great if you're already engaged with squadrons or a ship you want to shoot. If you're NOT, though, it's not as good.  But with the FCT, after your ship moves, you can move (on Yavaris) 2 unengaged squadrons distance 1, which can hopefully let you get them distance 1 of that ship you want to hit.

And what
Flight Commander does is lets you trigger your squadrons AFTER your regular attack and move. In general, this lets you put your regular ship damage in and take out some shields and force him to use a defense token or two to not take as much damage. He has squadrons to deal with coming up afterwards, so he might not spend tokens to save them for that. But with Yavaris in particular, FCT lets you move that squadron that wasnt engaged with a ship or squadron into engagement.... so then it can fire TWICE because of the Yavaris ability. But this only works because FCT happens AFTER you move.  Flight Commander ALSO triggers after. So you get to move things in and then shoot them twice.
It's kind of significant.  For the cost of Yavaris (68 points) and 3 squadrons (let's say B-wings at 14 points each for a total of 42), you can throw 3 red dice, 6 blue, and 6 black at one ship.  Those 15 dice beats an ISD-I for total dice output (8 front arc dice) for the same cost.  Recently in the last few games I've played, I've cracked VSDs and ISDs with the combination (we'll come back to this).  It can kill a LARGE amount of ships and it seems somewhat overpowered, or at least several of its opponents would tell you as such.
What it feels like sitting across the table from it
The case for it
It throws 15 dice.  15 flipping dice, that will put a giant hurt on anything.  Again, I nearly killed an ISD with it (sorry Matt...) and it's NOT easy to deal with if you don't know what you're up against.  Jan Ors will make whatever's trying to engage you heavy, your other squadrons (X-wings, likely) will kill those trying to engage you OR will add to the hurt the 3 B-wings throw at you already.  Toryn Farr and Bomber Command Center ensure that each of those blue and black dice are generally dealing at least 1 dice worth of damage for a total of 12 minimum (assuming your Nebulon rolls incredibly poorly with its front arc).

Combine that with the fact that squadrons can move almost indiscriminately around the table and you have a moving blob of hatred and anger that is incredibly difficult to stop and counter.  The Rebel blob is well-used, with 40% of the top quarter Rebel finishers in the Wave 6 store championships including Yavaris (Thanks for the data, Baltanok, and I'll get back to this, too).  Heck, look at the top tables of Nationals around the world this quarter.  Yavaris appears 5 times, second only to MC80s (7 times) for the Rebel side.  It's a large part of the top tables, wrecking its way through a lot of its competition.

If it DOES Need it, how SHOULD it Be Nerfed?
I'm not going to discuss this, as A) I'm not a game designer and B) it's FFG's decision to make.  Demolisher was nerfed in order to make it unable to attack after an Engine Techs movement.  I don't know HOW you can nerf it and still make it worth taking.  You could say something like "it can't use tokens" or something, but what do you do with Leia Organa? Personally, I don't know if it even actually needs it!
Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor an engineer, not a game designer!
The case against it
Well, I'm sure by now you've noticed that I've thrown around points "I'll get back to" a few times in this article. The first point, "Recently in the last few games I've played, I've cracked VSDs and ISDs with the combination."  Here's the issue/counterpoint with my statement.  It wasn't JUST the Yavaris and 3 B-wings; it was Yavaris, B-wings, Toryn Farr on a Bomber Command Center flotilla, Norra Wexley, Adar Tallon on a 3rd ship, and 2 separate turns of attacks FROM the Yavaris.  Just adding in the flotilla and Norra is another 50 points on top of the original 110.  And that's two turns of 160 points of attacks on the ISD, and I didn't even kill it (it WAS mostly dead, though).  Rebel fighter swarms are intense quantities of everything built together to either ensure redundancy/fix results (Toryn Farr, BCC).  You don't JUST see 3 B-wings with Yavaris, you see an entire Large Fighter Coverage with them as part of it.  It attempts to win the fighter game first (or at the very least neuter it enough that it doesn't matter) and then start hitting ships with it.

Yavaris is still on a Nebulon-B, and it's a squisher ship than an ISD every time.  The squadrons can do significant damage, but if you blow up Yavaris the entire combination collapses.  Combine that with the fact that if you kill Jan Ors, any engaged squadrons have to attack engaged squadrons.  Not an easy thing to do, of course, but Saber Squadron/IG-88 and E-wings exist.  As does engaging the squadrons on different sides of the bubble, making it more difficult for Jan to free them all.  The squadrons can move everywhere they want, SO LONG AS THEY'RE NOT ENGAGED.  Significant flak can take out those B-wings, as can attacking them with squadrons of your own.
The missing SKU number is for an Imperial Death Star, OF COURSE!  It has a squadron command of 12.

I realize that me saying "just flak your way out of problems, get good with squadrons, learn to play, nerd" is incredibly unhelpful (both for this discussion and me giving you advice on beating it). The SECOND counterpoint; let's look at that data again for top tournamentsSloane shows up 6 times, the most of any Imperial admiral.  Does she need to be nerfed (she just arrived!)? Does Tokra for winning several of those games (I'm sure his opponents would agree, haha!)? Yavaris is strong, don't get me wrong.  But it doesn't guarantee you top placement or top tables.  Last Worlds, Rieekan was overly represented (more than half the fleets there were Rieekan lists) and that's why he was nerfed.  As a Rebel, you can see Ackbar lists and Cracken and Mon Mothma MSU in those top results.  Gladiators show up in a lot of the Imperial lists, as do ISDs.  There's no LIST right NOW that guarantees you a win or is "unbeatable."
Unbreakable, unbeatable, potato, po-tah-to
The last point I'll make is that after talking to Baltanok, based on his analysis of Store Championship season, Yavaris is in 40% of fleets, usually pushed by Dodonna or Sato.  Meanwhile, big pickle HMC80s were in 55% of fleets, most of them NOT Ackbar.  I don't hear anyone clamoring for THOSE to be nerfed, and they're represented even higher than Yavaris is.  Until we see data from this Fall Regionals, we don't know how high the representation will be.

So Does it Need a Nerf?
In my opinion, nerfs should happen when either something is too ubiquitous (seen everywhere; Rhymer was the foundation of EVERY Imperial bomber group and he was dominating Imperial lists; Rieekan was in half the fleets at Worlds) or is preventing design space/could be preventing design (Rhymer falls into here, too.  With the Squall title on the Quasar, if Rhymer allowed Medium range attacks, it was possible to hit ships that had just deployed with your first ship or two turn 1.  BCC flotillas were overdoing the amount of squadron lists seen on the tables.  There's an Ackbar discussion that Eric and I have had about if he's preventing Rebel ship design, but that's another article entirely).  Yavaris is in only 40% of Rebel top quarter lists, I don't know what the number FFG uses to determine it's TOO much is.  Related to that, you can't just start nerfing things that are good; otherwise you end up seeing the same list across the table every time as you play it as well.  Nerfing Yavaris because it's GOOD is a slow spiral towards nerfing ANYTHING for being good.  What we need to determine is whether it's TOO good for its points and abilities.
Will said skills pay the bills?

Demolisher was very good, and it still IS very good.  The ability it had to attack from out of long range was allowing it to work without suffering any potential consequences.  With Relay excepted (we're not getting into that now), Yavaris needs to stay in range of any squadrons it wants to command to attack twice.  This means bringing it into range of whatever ship its attacking and allowing it to counter attack.  Combine THAT with the fact that it requires the ship you're attacking to stay in range of the squadrons and you can run into issues if the ship you're attacking (Demolisher) leaves you behind in the dust and rolls up into short range of your Yavaris.  I can have all sorts of B-wings able to attack it twice from where it WAS but Demolisher isn't THERE anymore (and soon enough, Yavaris won't be either!).  Not to "just" call Demolisher the easy counter, but attacking where the MC30 and/or Gladiator WAS can lead to you losing your Yavaris, as its double braces may not necessarily help from a well-rolled side arc of either ship (or double arcing, even!).  The Yavaris isn't invulnerable, and that's why (in my opinion) it hasn't been nerfed so far by FFG.

ISDs and VSDs remain vulnerable to Yavaris attacks; VSDs don't move fast enough and ISDs can't hop a squadron blob that's in its front (they'll end up at BEST in its back arc, still able to fire on it next turn).  However, large ships NEED a counter to them, they shouldn't be invulnerable for the good of the game.
In my mind, this is fair
Is Yavaris at the place where it needs a nerf? We'll have to see what this Fall Regionals season shows us, but for now, I'm going to say "No, not yet."  For now, though, let's see what happens!


  1. I'd be interested in the current tourney data RE: Yavaris. In just my meta since it's nerf it has but gone. When you do see it it's usually double tapping anti-squad sqauds not B-wings, as it's more reliant on FCT or AFFM on another ship. Officer Wedge could help it have a comeback as the end of round move plus moving while engaged is a trump on FCT for Yav bombers.

  2. From what I'm seeing (Groundhog Day 2020) it looks like Yavaris is in 18% of fleets and is making top 10% in 23% of fleets. I'm not sure if those numbers are "just Rebel fleets" or "all fleets with a focus on Rebel upgrades."

    I just took it to 6th place in Atlanta yesterday, so it's still good, and when it goes off it is NICE, but you gotta be careful with getting it close to an SSD, of course. So it's not the auto-take it once was, but it's still getting work done.