Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Prohibitively Expensive? Han, Hera, Costs, and Usage

So I will fully admit the reason I wrote that Toryn Farr post was to get my math in order for THIS post.  This is going to get into more thinkpiece territory, with a similar thought progression as my article wondering if Yavaris needed a nerf or not.  But this article basically spun out from the question, "Why do Han and Hera cost so dang much?"
Don't worry guys, Hera was on Endor! She survives season 4! Everyone else.....
So, let's talk a bit about how I stumbled into this article.  Hera is 28 points, Han is 26.  They're the two most expensive squadrons on the Rebel side (and are 1 and tied for 3 in the game, thanks to Morna Kee) and their dice don't seem as worth it as Morna Kee's (links to everyone's cards are on their names, as usual).  3 Blue dice against ships with a reroll as needed versus a blue and a black non-bomber don't seem as good, though they cost all similarly.  There has to be something there, right?  I see Morna Kee on (theoretical lists and) tables much more often than these two (probably because Jendon, probably because she can reroll all the dice she wants when attacking, and that she KEEPS getting that Brace back every turn).  Let's wander down a path, see what we can discover and what this will tell us.  Are these 2 worth it? Can you build a viable list with them? And how do we do it?

A slight diversion: Hera and Han are two of my favorite Star Wars characters.  I've enjoyed Han Solo for a good chunk of the 30-odd years I've been alive, the smuggler who gets the girl and realizes he's better than he actually seems to be.  Then Hera shows up in Rebels, and uses her Space Mom super-power of "being competent at her job" (which eventually I assume she teaches Wedge Antilles to do?) and she's one of my favorite characters on the show.  She'll put up with zero guff, and she knows how to lead a Rebel cell.  I can't wait until season 4 shows up on DVD and I can watch what happens and how it all ends.
I got this book for Christmas, I just need to finish the 30 odd other ones on my shelf.....
Anyways, Hera and Han share the Defender AA platform, of 2 black and 2 blue, and they have Grit as well.  But both of them cost more than a Defender.  Substantially more, by at least an entire Y-wing squadron.  Their abilities are what makes them so dang expensive, but I feel that learning to leverage them is the step to both getting them on the table AND getting good use for their points.  Let's compare them TO a Defender, and note that while all of them roll the same anti-squad attack, Hera and Han (H&H going forward, to shorten my writing) have several other abilities beyond a basic Defender (I'm going to ignore speeds for this article, let's assume that we can get whoever we need to into a place we want them to).  H&H both have Grit, which means they can just move away from one squadron that's attempting to engage them.  They also both have Rogue, so after moving away they can attack a squadron or ship that they're engaging, instead of that 6 health double Brace Jendon that they'd rather NOT fight.

They ALSO get B-wing (almost, just not bomber) dice against ships.  A blue and a black is pretty solid damage, as that's a theoretical 2 damage on a Rogue platform.  That can put a solid hurting onto a ship, especially if it's shieldless (and that's where we're going to shine and probably end up).  They aren't bomber, but (ignoring the critical potential), they add more damage on top of a Defender.  The blue dice bomber ability of a Defender means 6/8 sides do 1 damage, and the black dice they roll has the same potential.  H&H add on another 0.5 damage (average) from the blue dice.  So a Defender adds in 0.75 damage against ships, while H&H add in 1.25 each.
And a sweet turning ability, too
As I said, I had written that Toryn Farr article to reference the math I was going to do.  The black dice from H&H average out at 0.75 damage each, and Toryn Farr turns that blue dice into ANOTHER 0.75, for a grand average total of 1.5 damage.  Yes, you NEED to stay within distance 3 of Toryn Farr, but you knew that going in (and as you CAN'T get BCC with them, I'd personally want to ensure that I can reroll the one dice I'm allowed, if I need to).  And THAT'S part of why Hera and Han cost so much: the Rebel upgrade suite.  You don't NEED to build a list with H&H, Toryn Farr, Flight Controllers, Adar Tallon, and Yavaris.  But you CAN.  Which means I can fling H&H at a squadron with 5 dice (3 blue 2 black from Flight Controllers), kill Howlrunner with 1 shot from completely healthy to dead (2 blue accuracies, 1 blue hit, 2 black hits), untapping Hera or Han with Adar Tallon.  I can then use Yavaris to have them fire into a ship, and then Han could fire ANOTHER 2 dice at the start of next round.  Rolling perfectly, that's 5 damage into a ship, or 7 if that first (Adar untapping) attack was against a ship, not a squadron/needed Flight Controllers.

But let's take ANOTHER side jaunt (this article is just me taking further and further side jaunts, haha!).  As we learned in that Toryn Farr article, with 2 blue dice, I average 1.38 damage per shot from those.  The black dice add on another 1.5, for a grand total of 2.88 damage per shot under Toryn Farr.  That's nearly 3, and that's nearly a dead TIE fighter (depends on your rolls, of course).  That's a very good chance of one-shotting a basic TIE, which only HELPS their Grit.  If your opponent is only engaging you with 2 TIEs, there's a very good chance of killing one and then leaving before the other can attack.

Hera and Han ALSO have their very good unique abilities (and THAT'S the OTHER part of where the cost comes in).  Hera grants Rogue to 2 different squadrons, allowing her to act as a flotilla pushing 2 squadrons at the end of the turn, after all the OTHER flotillas have gone.  With a bid and first activation, she lets you get Rogue on any other Rebel squadron.  Rogue Wedge & Dutch, Rogue Nym and Keyan Farlander, you have to pay for THAT ability.  Because she lets you wait until the squadron phase with her, you're paying for the ability to both turn your (non) Rogue squadrons into Rogues and the fact that you get to act during the squadron phase with some of the potentially deadliest squadrons the Rebellion has to offer.  Rogue Luke Skywalker is frightening, putting the finishing touch NOW on a ship you thought had one more turn in it (Rieekan....)

As for Han? The ability to activate him last (with Rogue) and then again first (at the top of next turn) is potentially insane.  If you didn't bring any squadrons or don't have shields (or a Brace...), that's a theoretical 4 damage into a ship you thought was going to be alive, that you thought was going to be around next turn (or THIS turn, before Han activated and told you to kiss his Wookiee!) The fact that Han can END a Star Destroyer before it can activate this turn, finish it off and completely ruin your opponent's day? AMAZING.  Lando is better at guaranteeing damage, but Han can ensure you always go first, putting your opponent on their back foot no matter how prepared for what they think is coming.  Having used Han in my GenCon list, I used his ability at least once per game.  It's WORTH it.
He could use a good kiss
Rogues, as we all know, don't need squadron commands.  Especially late game, when your carriers might have better things to be doing, or would rather Engineer to stay alive.  But early game, when everyone is throwing around squadrons turn 2, that's a great time to potentially use A squadron command to throw some of your Rogues forward, before your opponent can kill them with 5-6 attacking A-wings.  I wouldn't make a huge habit of it (and side note: I wouldn't include both H&H in the same list for a start (shmitty's Sato plan excepted)), but once or twice a game is a SMART move that a lot of opponents may not see coming.

So, how do we build for them? Hera wants all sorts of other friends (probably ones with Escort like X-wings, she has one Brace!) that she can make Rogue, and Han (I've found) often likes picking on small based ships that THOUGHT they were safe.  Raiders that ran away at speed 4? MC30s running like the dickens? Sure would suck if Han showed up and shot them in their shieldless side repeatedly!  For both of them, a mix of Rogues (either coming from Hera's ability, or pairing with Han) and non-Rogues would be an interesting idea, I think.  Of course, finding a way to include them all (points cost!) is what I find the HARDEST part! 

Bail Organa in wave 7 had the ability to declare a turn that the ship he's on is going first.  What if you had that in squadron form, whenever you wanted, irregardless of what turn it is? Or what if you had the ability to guarantee that you would get the LAST shot from some of the deadliest squadrons the Rebellion had to offer?  THAT'S what Hera and Han offer you.  The chance to get the final word with your squadrons or the chance to jump a ship before it can activate, period. It's the first step towards Bail and Pryce (and just in squadron form), and if you build lists with THAT in mind, you can get the best use of them all.  You don't need to trigger Han's ability every round, but the one round you get to?  Wreck some stuff.  

What if you (Rebel player) could take a "fake" flotilla, that activated 2 squadrons at the end of the round, giving you that DEFINITE LAST activation of your squadrons? That's Hera for you.  As in most of the things I write on this blog, they're good squads (Bront), I just need to find a way to best leverage their abilities! There's potential there, just need to find it!


  1. Han, Hera, Biggs, Luke, Wedge and Jan Ors makes 131 points, 3 under the cap. Seems like there could be some fun opportunities there.

    Han for the double-tap. Hera to give Rogue to Luke and Wedge. Biggs to follow and take a beating, and Jan to stick nearby so others can use her Brace if they need to. I like this idea…