Wednesday, January 9, 2019

XI7 Turbolasers: yours is the drill that will pierce the hull points

Let's talk a bit more about one of the most ubiquitous turbolaser upgrades in the game going all the way back to wave one: XI7 Turbolasers.

Wanted for many many crimes against poor VSDs since the game hatched from a stone egg.
In terms of rules, there isn't a lot to discuss other than XI7 Turbolasers's interaction with Advanced Projectors, which has been FAQed differently over the years. Presently, XI7s prevent Advanced Projectors (or similar effects like Foresight) from redirecting more than one point of damage, period, regardless of how many potential hull zones you could redirect to (the earliest ruling was you could redirect 1 point to each hull zone if you could redirect to more than one, but that has since been overturned). At best, Advanced Projectors allow you to redirect that one point of damage to an opposite, rather than neighboring, hull zone. Whee.

Another pedantic bit of nonsense is the alphanumeric portion is ex-eye-seven, not ex-seventeen, as I've sometimes heard it referred to. Now you can be the "um actually" guy in your group, earning the put-upon annoyance of every other plastic spaceships nerd you correct, but at least you get to be right about Star Wars, and isn't that the most important thing?

No, no it is not.
Getting to the point of the article: XI7s are good. Most people know they're good. If you've been on the receiving end of them, you've grumbled at damage drilling through to the hull because you weren't allowed to redirect as much as you wanted to. It turns out debuffing the most common defense token to near-uselessness for 6 points is a good deal, especially given it's not uncommon to see ships (especially heavier ships) with double redirects that are difficult to lock down completely. Here's the thing, though: XI7s are probably seen too often because they're taken by default when other options would have been superior.

You're nailing it so far, Eric, telling people they're doing it wrong. Way to make friends!
I want to elaborate a lot more on what I mean by that. Specifically, XI7s are "working" when you're eliminating enemy ships that could have been saved by a timely redirect but the XI7s prevent that, effectively destroying those ships earlier than you would otherwise. You can also make an argument for XI7s "working" when enemy ships need to prioritize repair commands instead of whatever else they wanted to do in order to move/regenerate shields to compensate for the XI7s; effectively it's a turbolaser upgrade with a small dash of Slicer Tools set to repair, although I find that argument less convincing overall.

Using XI7s also needs to be considered compared to alternatives. Not all ships have a redirect (like flotillas, Raiders, and Nebulon-Bs, for example) and not all ships have sufficient shields that the XI7s do much, and in both cases, simply adding another die is often preferable to the redirect debuff from XI7s. For an example of the latter point, let's assume a heavier ship is firing on an CR90. Initially, you would think that XI7s would work fine here, and they do all right, but the CR90 at best has 2 shields in a given hull zone to redirect to. If the attacker was using Quad Battery Turrets, for example, and added a blue die, the outcome would either be an accuracy which could stop the redirect from doing anything altogether or an extra damage, which would result in the redirect wiping the entire hull zone, which is a better result overall: the same amount of damage will hit the targeted hull zone but the redirect hull zone now has no shields remaining rather than one. More reliable sources of dice, such as Spinal Armament and the like, will add a red die that 6/8 of the time has a similar (or better, on a double-hit) benefit and that only improves with access to dice modification.

There's also the matter of the rest of your fleet, and this is the point that's going to be the least easily-defined because it's extremely subjective, so bear with me please. Say you've got an ISD-II in an otherwise-heavy squadron fleet with undergunned carriers and a mix of squadrons and you're trying to decide on what turbolaser upgrade to give it (if anything). Should you give it XI7s? My answer would be "maybe, but probably not." Why? Because generally XI7s are best against heavier targets and in most instances, your ISD all on its own will not be sufficient against a heavy target, so you'll need some help from your squadrons. Even if the XI7s make redirecting less effective, your squadrons will be having their attacks redirected at full power until the shields or redirect tokens run out, making it pretty unlikely that your XI7s will meaningfully do a lot when considered as part of your overall approach to destroying the type of ships XI7s are supposed to help you with. It feels like they're doing something when a bit of the ISD attack gets through to the hull, but the shields your opponent didn't redirect to on the ISD attack will be getting used up against the squadron attacks, making the XI7s fairly pointless. You get into similar issues with a heavier ship using XI7s alongside other sources of chip damage, like longer-ranged plink damage harassment CR90s and Arquitens, for example.

Okay, so when should you use XI7s if I'm so down on them? Well, #1 I'm not down on them, just very particular, thank you very much 😉 and #2 there are still lots of good uses for them. Let's talk about some general recommendations for when to use them.

It's going to be a bit longer than you'd think.
Use XI7s on multiple ships that are capable of attacking the same enemy arc
This is a specialty of Ackbar Assault Frigate conga line (and friends) fleets as well as the occasional longer-ranged double ISD fleet, usually led by Vader. If you can get more than one good attack in on a single arc, XI7s will start to add up pretty quickly as brace tokens get overheated and the attacked zone quickly goes shieldless and redirects do little to help. If you can get enough attacks in on that hull zone without interruption (by an opponent moving that hull zone out of line of sight and/or repairing to restore/move shields to it), ships will go down pretty quickly.

Use XI7s on ships that intend to double-arc
The reasoning here is very similar to the above point, but with a bit of a twist. Most turbolaser upgrades only buff a single arc or buff your attacks under specific circumstances (best example being Quad Battery Turrets, which are amazing but have that speed restriction). XI7s buff all of your attacks. If you're the kind of beefy ship that likes to get in and double-arc opposing ships, especially with a larger dice pool, like an ISD-I or MC75, then XI7s will help both of your attacks out and will often make taking both attacks on the same hull zone rather painful.

Use XI7s on ships with large enough dice pools
If your ship isn't dealing sufficient damage with its attacks to make only redirecting one point of damage of minimal benefit, then your XI7s aren't doing much. In my experience, that generally means dice pools of 5+ dice on your good arcs. A generic Assault Frigate at long range is throwing 3 red dice, averaging 2.25 damage. That's not the kind of thing that makes people sweat when XI7s are involved. If it's buffed by Ackbar up to 5 red dice, then the 3.75 average damage makes XI7s more appealing, especially if used in multiples.

Bring the biggest drill your fighting spirit can muster. Also, that's basically the whole series.
Use XI7s with a fleet that likes to drill damage through shields
Remember the example I gave earlier with the ISD-II and a bomber fleet about how the ISD might sneak a bit of damage through but the bombers were going to be stuck chewing through the shields that were still sticking around? If your fleet is designed with enough upgrades to sneak damage through to the hull past shields, then XI7s are a natural compliment. Specifically, I mean upgrades like Assault Proton Torpedoes as well as Engine Techs equipped to ships that are absolutely fine with ramming; basically anything that can get more hull damage piled on to enemy ships while they still have shields love working with XI7s. The counter-point is true for "don't use XI7s," however, in that they're working at cross-purposes to upgrades like Assault Concussion Missiles and Heavy Ion Emplacements that love to chew up available shields to make redirecting pointless.

Use XI7s against MC30s
Seriously. Two redirects, a good amount of shields, usually has access to at least one form of messing with attack dice, but 4 measly hull. MC30s are the ideal prey for XI7s and thus hate seeing them on the table. If your meta is rife with MC30s it might be worth it just for this.

Final thoughts
If you're throwing enough dice and have anything else working in the XI7s' favor from the above list, I'd still consider using them. Otherwise, please consider other turbolaser options which are likely better options for your fleet. Hopefully I'll be expanding on this line of thought when it comes to a new fleet building article, but I don't want to get anyone's hopes up too soon 😉.

I've tried to keep the Gurren Lagann gifs to a minimum, but it's been hard given DRILLS.


  1. It's Roman numerals. They're "eleven seven" turbolasers. Obviously.

  2. Awesome Gurren Lagann references haha!
    Believe in the turbolaser that believes in you!

  3. Is it worth bringing XI7s in tandem with boarding troopers to make the one time they get to spend a redirect event weaker? My brain math is having a hard time figuring out which upgrade is best if you're planning on exhausting all 4 tokens on an ISD with a boarding team first. Adding flat damage with spinal or weakening redirects even further

    1. It's worth it if you think that will be sufficient to one-hit KO your target (so against small ships, mayyybe a more fragile medium ship). Against heavier ships they just won't spend the redirect (losing it forever) for the sake of one hull point.

      If you're running boarding team Vader to discard their Thermals or ECM and then you can lock down the brace reliably, then XI7s are likely more competitive because they'll have no meaningful damage mitigation and a last-first punch can probably finish off even a heavier ship.

    2. Yeah the more I look at it the more I feel XI7 is just stepping on the toes of the boarding troopers. It's probably wiser to pay the 3 points and upgrade to spinals to just have more raw damage straining their pre-exhausted tokens. (Already have LTT slotted As the first turbo slot on this theorycrafting ship)