Avenger Boarding Troopers isn't dead so much as it's less insane right now. A double arc should usually proceed with the weaker attack going first (daring the opponent to discard tokens) followed by using Avenger on the main blast. It's not going to be able to take out other large ships in a single go anymore (which was always a bit hit and miss) but it's still quite threatening.
Avenger's effect now reads "While attacking, you may exhaust this card. If you do, the defender cannot spend exhausted defense tokens during this attack."
We'll see what kind of changes this makes for the ISD-I versus Kuat ABT argument. I could see it benefiting either over the other in varying circumstances but my gut feeling is the ISD-I ABT build continues to be the better ISD at exploiting the super activation with the Kuat being superior otherwise.
John: I don't mind this. It still is a solid card that can put a hurting into things, it's just less easy to keep throwing damage from a distance at something with an exhausted token. You can still ensure that the CR90 is going to have a BAD time at long range, but this isn't as DOMINANT of a title as it was before. It's still worth taking, but it's not an autoinclude any more.
Brace aces can no longer reduce 2 damage to 1, which is then reduced to 0. This also makes Biggs a bit less obnoxious when he's hiding in the Gallant Haven bunker. The intention seems to be part of an effort to get Rebel squad fleets to stop being so formulaic with just Gallant Haven and Yavaris hanging out together (we're getting to Yavaris); the idea being (usually correctly) that Gallant Haven gives you an edge against other squad fleets relying on getting the jump on you (Sloane fleets, usually) and Yavaris is just all-around good, but particularly so against fleets without many squads where you can double-tap bombers on ships.
Gallant Haven now reads "Before a friendly squadron at distance 1 suffers damage from an attack, reduce the total damage by 1, to a minimum of 1.”
I still think you'll see Gallant Haven used for an edge in a squad-on-squad matchup, but it's no longer so powerful that it's a clearly better option than investing into other carriers, specifically the Pelta which is around the same points cost. The Pelta is overall a superior dedicated carrier (as it can pack Fighter Coordination Teams and use All Fighters Follow Me), especially for giving slower Rebel squads a speed boost, but the Assault Frigate is a superior combat ship and is for my money the best Flight Controllers ship the Rebels have, if you want to get them in there.
John: Agreed that it's still the best Flight Controllers platform, but it's not as mandatory. As a man who ran the Gallant Haven-Yavaris-3 flotilla combo, this is a good call by FFG. You needed to roll 3 damage AS A START to make any impact on the squads bunkering in it. It was too easy to just hide squads in there and tank; there was no risk in doing so as you were sure to survive. It's still GOOD, and worth taking, but as Eric said, now the Pelta is way more of a viable option. I like that it still helps and does what it does, but it isn't without risk in that you still CAN take damage. Good job, FFG!
This change is made specifically to shut down Yavaris's interaction with the nearly-mandatory Flight Commander + Fighter Coordination Teams combination that made using Yavaris extremely easy because you could bump your squads into range of your target and then double-tap them because they didn't move in the squadron activation. No more!
Yavaris now reads “[Squadron Command]: Each squadron you activate can attack twice if it does not move during your activation."
Yavaris is also still a very legitimate choice. It now effectively works like it did prior to waves 3 and 4 and it was still quite powerful even then. You can also set it up with Fighter Coordination Teams on other ships (Peltas, other Nebulons) prior to its activation, but that makes the machine take longer to set up, which gives its opponent more time to throw a monkey wrench into the works. Left to its own devices even without support, it's still an excellent title but one that encourages more defensive or attrition-based play to really pay off.
I'm still expecting Fighter Coordination Teams on Yavaris just due to how useful they are overall and because nothing else is really fighting for the support team slot, even if it no longer combos like it used to.
John: Someone asked me if Yavaris was dead because of this. It isn't. It makes Yavaris take more of a finesse to use, and I'm fine with that. You need to determine if moving the squad is more important than getting to attack with it twice. Adar Talon is still combo-tastic with it, and I have plans to try this out with Hera and some friends, too (so she can move two friends into position as needed the turn before). Fighter Coordination Teams is still GOOD on it, as it lets me move B-wings turn 1 and potentially turn 2.
I am, of course, mad that I have to update my Yavaris and B-wing articles, haha. But it's so worth it in that it's now not just an auto-win every time someone puts it into their list. Does this kill Nebulons? No. It requires more work, but if you put the time in, you can still kill EVERYTHING. Yavaris is no longer the "easy win button" which is good for the game.
Relay now only works if the Relay squadron itself could be commanded by the ship resolving the squadron command. That means it will benefit from Boosted Comms, but it can get expensive quickly if you're relying on Boosted Comms and Relay to create a buffer between your carriers and the enemy fleet.
Each of these squadrons' Relay keywords now reads "Relay X. (When a friendly ship resolves a [Squadron] command, if you are in range to be activated, up to X of the squadrons it activates can be at distance 1–3 of you.)”
Given the flotilla rules changes and how well Relay paired with flotillas, Relay is less abusable inherently than it used to be given the limit to only 2 flotillas per fleet (we're getting there!). It's not too expensive to slap two Boosted Comms on those flotillas if you want to keep them further from the fight, but one starts to wonder if it's worth doing that when the Boosted Comms on their own would likely have been sufficient. For that reason, I'm currently considering Relay to be more of a side benefit to other abilities on squadrons (like Jendon's ability or Strategic on the generic Relay squads) than something to really fleet build around like it used to be.
With that said, you'll still see these guys in Strategic fleets, but those fleets are going to need to retool themselves to be more comfortable with flotillas risking their lives to get the job done. Jendon is still pretty dang good and is likely not leaving most Imperial heavy squadron fleets anytime soon.
John: I'm happy with this. One of the common complaints in the game has always been when ships don't actually engage you, they would just sail off on the sides, flinging squadrons at you without ever actually engaging you. This stops that and ensures that if you bring a ship, it's going to be near the fight PDQ. Even with Boosted Comms and all, it's still going to need to be close enough that within a turn or two that flotilla is going to get targeted.
First thing to note is these rules changes are listed in the tournament rules document, so technically you can ignore these for casual play. That said, good luck finding a casual game with someone where you didn't agree to waive these rules beforehand, so these two rules are effectively the law of the land now. They're pretty straightforward: regular fleets are capped at 2 flotillas, period, and flotillas don't prevent you from being tabled if your non-flotilla ships are all destroyed. These types of changes sound familiar, I feel like I may have heard about that kind of thing before. On a side note, for casual or campaign games going over 400 points, I'd consider altering the rule to "one flotilla per 200 points" should you wish.
Flotilla Rules ChangesThe first is a fleet-building restriction that states: “A player's fleet cannot contain more than two flotillas.”
The second is a change to the rules so that a tournament game now ends when “At the end of a game round, all of one player's ships that are not flotillas are destroyed.”
Anyways, the flotilla changes together are probably the biggest change in this document and they're for the best. I'm a little curious about why they weren't limited by number of non-flotilla ships but I assume FFG was concerned about no-squad fleets using a Strategic Adviser on a large ship and then spamming small ships and flotillas to still get a very high number of activations, so they went with 2. 2 is a good number, as it allows flotillas to function in an adequate support role but you can't bring enough of them to seriously inflate activation count against MSU/swarm fleets that are working hard for it and you can't bring enough flotillas to substitute for serious carrier ships in a squadron-heavy fleet, either. Given flotillas are supposed to be support ships and most people didn't get into Armada so they could have their transports dominate their fleets and run away all game, the community overall has reacted very positively to this change, with some outliers of course. The second change is less extreme but underlines that flotillas are there to support a fleet and not to compose its core elements, so any fleet without enough "real" ships runs the very real risk of being tabled if the enemy directs everything they have at the non-flotilla ships.
How exactly this will shake out is hard to say. It's clear that squadron-heavy fleets relying on flotillas took a pretty major beating because your standard 2+3 or 1+X fleet just flat-out doesn't work any more. Squad-heavy fleets will likely return to their standard weakness of "if you can bum-rush the carriers, the fleet will fold," which has never seemed particularly unfair to me given the huge advantages unrivaled squadron domination can bestow upon that fleet archetype. Squad-heavy fleets also will likely be dropping back down to 3-4 ships in most cases, likely topping out around 5 activations for the most part. Big heavy fleets won't really change much unless they were leaning substantially on flotilla padding, which most weren't as of wave 7. MSU seems likely to be reinvigorated given its dominance of the activation game is now much more solid - "average" fleets will likely be running around 3-5 total activations, so swarm/MSU archetypes can still do their thing pretty reliably with 6-7.
MSU getting back into the game is a welcome development given a lot of the early wave 7 top fleets (Sloane and Raddus come to mind immediately) were specialized at dealing with other large-ship-heavy fleets but generally are vulnerable to a well-run MSU fleet. That vulnerability didn't matter much if MSU fleets weren't going to be showing up, but now that they are, good fleet-building is going to demand some countermeasures be considered in those fleets lest their weaknesses be brutally exploited.
John: I can sum this up as follows
Fish Farm is dead, 1+X and 2+3 are dead. Good riddance, you were restricting design space and fleet design abilities. I'm glad they're gone, and I will not miss them. I've run a few fleets that had 3 flotillas in them, and while it's sad that I can't get them all in there any more, for the good of the game this is the BEST nerf. I've been trying to build Rebel squadron lists for a solid 2 months now, and it always kept coming back to 2+3, and that was suffocating the game. Again, see above cat-related image.
Other changes/clarifications in the FAQ document itself not referenced by the article
I don't really want to cover these in too much detail, but in short the big ones for me were:
- Biggs can't pass damage on to Rieekan zombie Escort squadrons any more
- Strategic Adviser can only be used instead of its ship activation, so effectively it can only be used if its ship hasn't activated yet.
- Thrawn dials can be turned into tokens despite the wording indicating that shouldn't be possible, but hey I'm okay with that.
- Luke's X-Wing can't work with Norra's crit effect bubble because he ignores all shields and she affects shields.
- Chimaera replaces fleet commands entirely, so you can cycle through them and don't pile up a mob of discarded fleet command cards, like I expected. Yay!