Thursday, December 10, 2020

Squadrons Encyclopedia Chapter 5: Actually Attacking Ships!

That's right, with Halloween two weeks away, it's time for this zombie to rise from his grave!
Nothing is scarier than David S. Pumpkins!
Having BUILT our groups (conveniently linked on the squadrons page!), we now talk about using them.  I covered a bit of this in chapter 4, with the Large Fighter Coverage group, but a substantial amount of that article is how to go about killing enemy squadron groups.  This one is how to kill enemy SHIPS in this new thesis I'm writing.
I actually wrote my Master's Thesis on growing SWCNT for potential use in photovoltaic cells and.... you stopped caring.
All the fighter groups previously mentioned in different articles are trying to either overwhelm the shields of your opponent's ship or your opponent's defense tokens, and THEN they're trying to overwhelm their health/hit points.  The assumption you make when you're bringing a significant bomber presence is that you're going to use those bombers to deal the majority of your damage into your opponent's ships.  See the Fleet Building 201 article (specifically, the "Mixing it Up" part at the end) for more on the different carrier types you can use and how their damage may/may not help add in to the squadron damage you're doing.
I swear this article is more than just me pointing to previous other articles....
For an example of attempting to overwhelm the shields, let's look at some Rebel-on-Rebel violence.
B-wing health as is to describe B-wing activation order(s), MC80 shield zones to be described as compass directions

So let's say B-wing 1 goes first and lucks into that black dice hit+crit followed by a blue dice hit.  That's 3 damage, plus Norra's crit ability, for a grand total of 4.  That's horrifying.  The MC80 player determines that he's going to redirect 3 to the South and takes 1 from the crit on the West.  B-wing 2, AGAIN lucks into that 3 damage from Norra.  With shields there in the West, he gets that extra damage.  One to the west, 3 to the north (MC80 redirecting again).  We now have (after B-wing 2's attack) for shields 1-north, 0-south, and 2-west.  When B-wing 3 goes and gets the same 3 damage on the dice (I promise these dice are not microwaved, haha), that's 4 again from Norra.  Even blowing the redirect again, that's 1 (crit damage) to the west, redirected 1 to the north, and then 2 more to the west.  Which results in BOTH no shields anywhere but the East side AND 2 damage to the hull.  Norra's crit ability gave them an extra damage EACH attack she could.  And while Dodonna and B-wings LOVE getting face up crits on your ships, they also really love damaged ships just as much.  I've wiped most of the shields on this MC80, and ships without shields are in for a very bad time very quickly.
Clubs, girls, dancing, naked, MOM?
Overwhelming the tokens usually involves pouring so much fire into one arc that they can't redirect it all away.  There's so MANY attacks coming in to the SAME hull zone that the enemy ship just dies before it can have all its shields wiped out.  Having been on the receiving end of this multiple times, you burn your redirect tokens on single dice attacks, and you get SO MAD YOU GUYS that the TIE bombers or Y-wings just keep wailing on you without your ability to do anything (and you have to keep taking all that damage).  Liken this to a beam drill that's just tunneling into your ship, no matter what you do.
Y-wing health for order of activation
To keep things easy, we'll assume all the Y-wings end up doing 1 damage.  The first 2 Y-wings (0 and 1) take out the North shields of the Quasar, and the next two (2 and 3) either go into the hull of the Quasar or get redirected away.  The "danger" in redirecting these single hits away is that you're not getting the "best" use out of your redirect, and if Y-wings 4 and 5 get Hit+Crits, that's 4 damage going right into the hull (as the Quasar's lone redirect is gone when it redirects away both individual hits).  If it takes the attacks from 2 and 3, then there's issues with just taking the attacks from 4 and 5 as well, and whatever ship was doing the pushing of these 6 Y-wings.  The ship pushing these may end up rolling 2 accuracies and dealing 2-4 damage to the Quasar, killing it instantly.

In practice, your Y-wings don't always all roll 1 damage every time, and your opponent may or may not redirect those away, or brace and redirect them, it's hard to say.  Having shown these examples, is there a better version, quantity or quality? No, it really comes down to how you use them and what you kill with them and what you support your squadrons with.  To quote Eric (from SOME version of this Encyclopedia), "your large fighter coverage groups should, at their core, be a means to deliver damage to enemy ships, as that allows their large points investment to go towards winning the full game rather than just winning the squadron mini-game."  Speaking of hitting ships....

Target priority!
So we talked the basic quantity versus quality builds, but how do you know what to hit? Do you go for the nearly dead MC30 or the healthy CR90?
This whole movie was a giant exercise in what inappropriateness you can get away with
The real answer is that it depends, but you want to take out as many ships as you can.  If you can send Luke to hit the CR90 (use Adar Tallon to unactivate him!) and another squadron or two as needed to finish off the MC30, that's the best plan.  You'll need to evaluate the game state and how everything is going at that moment, what next turn may bring, what ship is currently activating and is moving where, what is it able to fire on afterwards, what SQUADRON is able to attack, for how much potential damage, where that damage can be applied to, etc etc.  There's so much to take into account that choosing the right ship is never an easy thing to do.

The EASY answer is to go for the highest priority target right now.  If that's a Raider nearby that wants to flak your squadrons, end it.  If it's an ISD bearing down on you, well, start applying bombers as fast as you can, and hopefully keep your ships out of its way as much as you can.

How to Bomb
Because this article isn't long enough, I'm going to talk quickly about the correct way to bomb enemy ships and some minor pitfalls I've fallen into.

1) When you're sending in bombers, be sure you can send in ENOUGH bombers.
What this means is that Flotillas, while great by their lonesomes and provide that lovely Bomber Command Center reroll, have (with token use) the ability to send 3 squadrons in.  That will do a good job at hurting or finishing off a crippled ship, but it will not be able to kill a healthy ship (barring miraculous rolling).  When that ship activates, it may use some of its arcs to flak you.  Or even worse, send in TIE fighters and THEN flak you.  Then you've got to figure out how to get rid of the squadrons intercepting you while still being able to bomb your ships.  That's potentially a way to separate your forces, leading to issues where you need your fighters on the left and your bombers on the right, but they're reversed for you currently.  Not ideal.

I'm not saying "don't push squadrons with flotillas;" what I'm saying is make sure the squadrons you're sending will either kill their target or are your fighters off to intercept the enemy fighter screen.  Flotillas that go early in the turn LOVE pushing my X-wings and A-wings and other fighters to get them into position.  Usually for me, bombers get launched by ships throwing out 3+ squadron commands a turn NATURALLY.

MORE BOMBERS is also smart because if you're forcing your opponent to spend all his tokens at once, they're pressured faster on one ship as those squadrons keep overloading shields/tokens.

2) Don't overextend yourself
Know where your Bomber Command Center, Toryn Farr, and Norra Wexley are in relation to you and where you need to go.  This will come over time with practice, but if you're depending on your B-wing blue dice to NOT be an accuracy, stay at most 3 away from whatever ship you have Toryn Farr on.  If you really need Luke to roll that Hit+Crit, keep him in range of the BCC you brought.

This ALSO ties in to where your ships will be next turn.  If you're moving your Yavaris away from the ISD and running away, make sure your squadrons are going to end up in commandable range.  I cannot tell you the number of times I've screwed this one up, so, uh..... try not to do that?

3) Don't land in a double arc. Especially of anything with good flak.
I've given Eric multiple kills of my squadrons by doing this.  Again, try not to do this.... but this ties back into point 1.  If you can send in 4 B-wings, you've got a good chance of killing his Raider (if you can ensure a BCC reroll that helps immensely).  Just make sure that you send them in an order somewhat akin to what I have below.  Yeah, you may end up double arced, but only one of them will be able to be double arced next turn (assuming you didn't destroy the Raider with repeated bomber attacks).  Alternatively, if you're in a double arc, make sure there's a reason he shouldn't flak out of 2 arcs with his activation.
In this example, the health of the B-wings represents the order to send them in slash where to place them.
4) DO land in a strong firepower arc, especially of things without Gunnery Teams.
Raiders love using that front arc to attack ships, as do ISDsH1MC80s love their side arcs.  A VERY GOOD place to put your squadrons is in those arcs.  If they DON'T have Gunnery Team, they have to choose between attacking the ships they want to shoot or the squadrons that are attacking them.  Terrible, hard choices are the best choices.  If they DO have Gunnery Team, that's one less attack coming at your ships.  Which is a win for you, as at best, you'll usually only lose 1-2 HP to enemy flak.  This relates to movement and point 6.

5) Concentrate your fire on the same arcs.  Especially those ships without Redirects.
Looking at you, Raiders. Flak ME, will you? Well here comes a bunch of B-wings at your face!  If they keep having to use their defense tokens to NOT take hull damage, that's better than you just bringing down their shields separately in different arcs.  Why? If I can take out the shields on a zone, any further attacks on that zone have to either go INTO the hull (Is it crit enabled? Man i hope so!) or get moved away somehow.  That's not an easy proposition for most ships to want to deal with, and if you can force them to discard tokens, they won't have them on subsequent turns.  Your next turn Yavaris front arc attack might actually kill that VSD that didn't have any more redirect tokens left, which would let your bombers go and engage another ship, starting the process all over again!  If you don't have to destroy X shields on a ship before it dies, that's as good as taking away X hit points from it.  Motti ISDs already have 14 hit points, don't give them more by trying to take out ALL their shields first.
Our earlier example, the start of the next turn
As we can see in our above remaining example, hitting that MC80 in its arc is 3 B-wing shots worth of damage, which can potentially kill the MC80 if you roll well enough.  It's not a guarantee, but there's no reason to worry about the shields on the opposite side of the hull and taking those out.  Just keep hitting that same unshielded side arc.  If you remember our OTHER example (with the Y-wings), they hit the same arc with all 6 shots.  Over and over and over again.

If your opponent moves the shields around (with an Engineering command) that's damage cards on the ship that ISN'T removed and shields that AREN'T healed (just moved).  Even if 4 shields were moved into that arc, that's 2 good rolls of a black dice to get the hit+crit and you're right back to hitting their ship.  That's one lucky Norra-enabled B-wing shot.  That's ALSO another arc that no longer HAS shields, so if you have a squadron command, you can just hop to the other side of the ship and hit that newly exposed arc.  This is very helpful when fighting SSDs and Starhawks.

6) When the ships move and you get to place your squadrons afterwards, stay in that same arc you were just shooting if you can.
This is also why I advocate hitting ISDs in the front.  They're moving forwards all the time, so when they land on you (and they WILL land you, they are very fat and bulky), you can just place yourself in their front arc again to get more attacks against that hull zone.  And hopefully by now, its shields are down from your constant attacks, letting you wail on its hull or force it to spend those redirect tokens it would rather use on larger attacks instead of against your bomber damage.

This does mean that if you're shooting an MC80, to stay in its front, you need to hit it in the front, which goes against my above advice of "hit them in the side."  If you're facing Ackbar, oh, definitely go for that front arc and make him choose between using his admiral's ability and flakking your squadrons.  If anyone else is bringing an MC80, it depends on how fast they're going and if they have Engine Techs on them.  But the general advice of staying in the same arc and hitting them in the same arc applies.  See point 8 below for more on this.

7) Don't chase crits.....after a fashion
Years ago, Bomber Command Center used to be seen in multiples, allowing you to reroll the first time for free before using your second BCC and second reroll to take care of any misses you saw.  NOW, you get one reroll on those black dice.  BCC is a dice fixer for when the dice screw you over.  You've only got a 2/8 chance of rerolling into that hit+crit, and an EQUAL one of rerolling into a blank with no way of fixing that.
I chase hits+crits on black dice like a heroin user.  But like Omar says, "all in the game."  
Use the BCC as a dice fixer and accept your single hit black dice, you'll be much happier that way.  You CAN reroll it, and sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn't so badly that you end up getting a blank (as happened LITERALLY today to me with Luke, womp).  I understand sometimes that we all NEED that Hit+Crit right here to win the game.  But just know that it won't always work out when you chase it on that black dice and you'll be a little less prone to tilting.

In the GAR, if you have multiple ways of fixing your dice (Jedi with Adept, Anakin/Oddball, Nevoota Bee-enhanced Shwarm) then go ahead and chase, but always leave your last possible reroll open for if your second to last roll/reroll results in a blank.  Anakin's 3 potential rolls/rerolls (initial, Adept-2, BCC) means that if you chase something from your initial roll with your Adept roll, make sure the BCC roll exists as a safety blanket if your Adept roll results in blanks.  And similarly for anything with Shwarm and BCC (Y-wings and ARCs).

The nice thing you CAN do as a Rebel is that with B-wings and Toryn Farr, you can reroll the blue dice with her ability once and then reroll it again with BCC.  This IS legal, and DOES let you chase crits for Norra's ability.  Be careful though, as you need to remain within 3 of Toryn's ship.  If not, you may reroll the blue dice from BCC into an accuracy.  Depending on if you're firing on a flotilla or not, this may or may not be worth it.

8) You can move and shoot in ANY order with a squadron command
This is something I first saw JJ do in the Worlds that he won.  His Y-wings, at distance 1 of his opponent's Assault Frigate fired into the available hull zone.  He then, after firing, moved them away from the firing arc so that way more bombers could get into the area.  He moved them in such a way that next turn they were able to get to another ship or hit the Assault Frigate next turn if needed.  This blew my mind when I watched it back then, as I knew it was possible, but I hadn't considered it.  He just kept piling on the damage in the same arc, eventually killing the Assault Frigate, but seeing squadrons go BACKWARDS or MOVE AWAY from the ship? Mind blowing.  Related to my above points about not outstripping your commanding ship(s) and staying in the same arc, you can fire on your opponent's ship and then move "forwards" (in HIS forwards direction) towards where he's headed, just for you to be able to hit him next turn again! Depending on dial choices, too, you might move it from one ship's command to be in range of the ship commanding them next turn!

There's not much more to say about how to hurt ships with your squadrons.  The only remaining point I'll bring up is the same one from EVERY squadrons encyclopedia post, which is especially true for bombers:

Squadrons activated by squadron commands > Rogue squadrons > Unactivated regular squadrons

Activating squadrons with commands lets them potentially delete ships from the table BEFORE they get to activate and shoot at you, which is incredibly helpful.  If they aren't activated, I hope those ships are within range 1 of your bombers so you can actually attack with them instead of just getting to move with them into position.