Friday, January 1, 2021

Red (assault) objectives, Rebellion in the Rim

It's time to start adding articles on the new RitR objectives, beginning with the red/assault objectives. This will be the first of three, so check them out as I add them to the fleet building/objectives page.

"I always wanted to fight in an even-less habitable part of space, sure."
Ion Storm
  • All obstacles excluding the station refers to the standard obstacles, so that means the 3 asteroids and 2 debris fields.
    • The second player still needs to obey all other obstacle placement restrictions, so they can't be placed within distance 5 of the short table edges or within distance 1 of one another, either.
  • In general, the second player should keep the obstacles closer to their side of the table so they can hide from the ion storm more effectively and encourage the first player to be reckless.
    • Depending on the second player's plan, it may be wise to keep an obstacle a bit more centrally-located so their own ships can hide from the storm later on.
  • Ships check to gain tokens at the end of their movement, so if they move more than once (the common example being Engine Techs) this can result in multiple checks.
    • That said, each ship can only hold one objective token at a time, so this is mostly relevant if the earlier maneuver didn't trigger Ion Storm but a subsequent one does.
  • Ships clear objective tokens for free so long as they resolve a repair command. If you're desperate, you can always resolve a repair command (dial or token, but token is less painful) for no purpose other than clearing an objective token.
    • If you're expecting to get hit with another ion sadness token after you move, though, repairing just to clear tokens is pointless.
  • The special crit from the objective works just like any special crit, meaning it uses up your "one crit per attack" allowance.
  • Because crits are resolved before damage is totaled up and applied, the extra point of shield damage if the defender lacks a command token can complicate how the defender takes damage. In that way, this special crit effect is identical to Ion Cannon Batteries.
What kind of fleets should consider using Ion Storm?
Long range gunline fleets generally benefit the most from this objective - they're comfortable sticking close to a rough line of obstacles closer to their deployment zone and taking pot shots at enemy ships making their way to the artillery battery while benefiting from the crit effect to pile up victory tokens and cause problems (either command token stripping or doing extra shield damage) for their targets. Normally a longer-ranged fleet leans pretty heavily on Most Wanted (as it's easy to get several ship shots on a target with red dice) but with Ion Storm you can wrack up a similar number of points but spread more evenly over an opponent's fleet so long as you're good with the objective and limit your opponent's ability to tag you back (usually by running for it once that starts to become an issue). Most Wanted also wants a sacrificial chump, usually a flotilla, and Ion Storm doesn't care.

It helps to be able to produce crits consistently enough to trigger the effect but Ion Storm isn't exactly a match made in heaven for crit-generation fleets (like those led by Admiral Screed) because those types of fleets often have specific plans for what they're doing with those crit results through their own upgrades and won't find using the objective crit as appealing for that reason. Squadrons also don't get any mileage from the objective, so squad heavy fleets should avoid it as well.

Like all objectives that allow second player to deploy all the obstacles, an Interdictor with Grav Shift Reroute can get up to some shenanigans, as you can place all your obstacles as you please (with the extra outside of distance 5 restriction) but with an eye towards maximum obstacle movement with GSR and then move many, if not all, the obstacles around after deployment. In most cases, you'd want to pull the obstacles closer to your table edge in Ion Storm to create an even larger gulf of no obstacles your opponent needs to get through before reaching safe harbor.

What kind of enemy fleets are disadvantaged by playing Ion Storm?
Any fleet that's not comfortable closing can run into issues if the opposing fleet can keep piling up victory tokens as your ships cook in the ion storm. Squad fleets can make use of the obstacles close to the second player fleet to hide their squads in to avoid flak but the carriers themselves are at serious risk of getting their command tokens (usually nav) blown off and then their shields chomped through as they aren't generally comfortable running into the teeth of a gunline.

"So the plan is we launch Scooby Snacks at the enemy ships?"
 Marked for Destruction
  • For the record, the two players will alternate placing the debris fields and dust fields (2 of each obstacle, so 2 placements for each player) and then the second player will place the 2 purrgil beyond distance 5 of both players' edges.
    • So player 1 will place 2 obstacles as the second and fourth obstacle deployment and player 2 will place 4 total obstacles as the first, third, fifth, and sixth.
  • This is another special crit objective where you can (if at close-medium range) have your ship use a crit to hit an enemy ship with a purrgil tracking laser, although it removes other tokens from enemy ships (not yours!).
    • This means that there will only ever be one objective token ship per fleet at any given time.
  • The purrgil can get their hate-ram in at the end of the round once a purrgil is moved.
    • Check for the purrgil hate-ram after moving each purrgil, and the person who moved the purrgil gets to decide if they wish to do so or not.
    • Because the second player chooses a purrgil to move first, they're a lot more likely to be able to send their purrgil in to ram an enemy objective ship or to send a scary purrgil away if their ship is stuck holding the hot potato.
    • If a purrgil successfully hate-rams a ship, it wipes the objective token and the ship takes a facedown damage card and the opponent of the hate-rammed ship gets a victory token.
      • This means that at most this objective will trigger 6 times, although it's obviously unlikely to happen round 1 and round 2 is iffy as well.
What kind of fleets should consider using Marked for Destruction?
Honestly, I view this as a "for funsies" objective because while it's fun playing Angry Space Whale Hot Potato, it doesn't generate a lot of points and the objective can be somewhat flipped on you in the wrong circumstances, although I expect that to be rare given player 2 gets to move the first purrgil each round. To get consistent points out of Marked for Destruction, a fair amount needs to all come together, basically.

As is common with obstacle-focused objectives, be on the lookout for Grav Shift Interdictor shenanigans opportunities. You should be able to start the purrgil pretty close to the enemy fleet with a little bump from GSR. Does that make this objective good with an Interdictor? Uh... maybe? Kind of? I'm not enthusiastic about it, but it would be fun at least.

That said, if you want a red objective that gives you access to dust fields, I find Marked for Destruction more accessible than Close-Range Intel Scan and it comes with a method for causing a bit of obstacle problems for player 1 as well as a means of getting some extra hull damage to stick to their ships. Given the targeting beacon can only be thrown at close to medium range and you get the two dust clouds, it's worth thinking about for a shorter-ranged ambush fleet.

What kind of enemy fleets are disadvantaged by playing Marked for Destruction?
I realize it's a fairly standard answer with a number of objectives, but slower less proactive fleets don't enjoy playing objectives where they may have a hard time scoring points and/or getting punished for sitting still for too long (by angry space whale rams). The dust clouds can cause big issues for gun lines when used well not to mention the issue of not only the objective purrgil issues but just the purrgils themselves being a nuisance for less maneuverable ships.

"You see we just slingshot the attack off the black hole. Makes perfect sense."
Rift Assault
  • Because the second player gets first obstacle deployment, second player had better place the rift first so the first player can't flip it on them.
    • Generally you get to choose to either put it somewhere you intend to orbit around at speed 2+ (so you don't take damage) and abuse the fact that it's a big obstacle so it's easy early on to stay at distance 1 of it, or place it right next to the enemy deployment zone so they deploy avoiding it, as deploying too close to it results in them starting at speed 0 and eating those facedown damage cards early.
  • Attacking ships can execute the entire sequence of adding a token and then flipping dice around in the same attack because it all occurs in the same timing window, the Resolve Attack Effects step.
    • Basically you would attack, spend a non-blank die to add an objective token to the defender, find that the defender now qualified for the second portion, and then discard the defender's objective token for the victory token and to change a die (with limitations if first or to anything if second player).
      • That said, you don't need to resolve the entire chain in one attack. You can have another ship set up the token or put it on while double-arcing by attacking first from a weaker arc.
    • This makes Rift Assault particularly effective for swatting down flotillas, as you can guarantee accuracy results when attacking them.
    • This also makes Rift Assault extremely deadly for the second player's ships using black or red dice as you can guarantee a double-hit or hit+crit result on all attacks involving 2+ dice. That's extremely strong with black crit upgrades, in particular.
What kind of fleets should consider using Rift Assault?
Rift Assault seems to have some in-expansion competition from Ion Storm in that they're both objectives where the players want to huddle close to obstacles to avoid getting pinged for victory points and stronger attacks by their opponent. Ion Storm has the upside of player 2 gets to control where all the obstacles go (on his side, of course) but Rift Assault has the upside that it's not crit-dependent and being able to flip dice to any facing can be very strong with the right builds.

Generally, I'd favor Rift Assault when you've got some crit effects you'd like to ensure go off (black crit effects in particular), as Rift Assault can guarantee those. Being able to fling more numerous groups of small packets of dice helps trigger it more frequently as well - a double arcing CR90A with a con fire dial can throw 2 red out the front and 2 red out the side at long range, which can trigger Rift Assault twice for 20 total points and 2 guaranteed double-hits.

Be careful if you're running flotillas with Rift Assault because it makes it much easier for your opponent to destroy them. Being able to pile up the tokens and victory points with combat flotillas (Gozantis in general, especially the longer-ranged ones, and the Combat GR-75s) can help even this out, but otherwise your flotillas are something of a liability.

In short, if Ion Storm is built more for gunlines, Rift Assault is built more for MSU-ish fleets that can generate numerous ship attacks of 2+ dice, especially if they've got a good number of black and/or red dice. It remains to be seen if either can dethrone the simple effectiveness of Most Wanted.

What kind of enemy fleets are disadvantaged by playing Rift Assault?
The less combat ships you have, the less benefit you get from Rift Assault. If you've already got a good amount of dice control, the objective won't help you much there, either. It does nothing for squadrons (a theme so far, it seems). Lurking close to obstacles can help hold off the worst of Rift Assault, but your fleet may risk hitting those obstacles (for your larger, slower ships) or may feel constrained being stuck next to them (for your smaller, faster ships).

The biggest surprise is they only give you one extra set of raid tokens in RitR 🙁.
Surprise Attack
  • Because remaining obstacles are placed as normal, that means the second player places the station and then places another obstacle before the first player gets their shot. This means the second player will be placing 4 total obstacles and the first player only 2.
  • Obviously the position of the station is going to be very important given the enemy flagship must be overlapping it. Generally, you'll want to place the station as far forward as possible so you've got a shot at assassinating the flagship, which will be too far ahead of the rest of the fleet.
    • Remember that "at" distance 5 means "at least a tiny portion of the obstacle is touching the distance 5 band," so if you're going for the far forward station, you'll want to have it barely qualify.
    • It's not exactly sporting, but if you want to delay contact with the enemy fleet (or avoid it altogether, you coward), there's nothing stopping you from deploying the station as far into a corner as possible and when it comes time to deploy your fleet, deploying pretty far away from it. 
      • This puts the first player in a situation where if he wants to get to you quickly, he may need to leave his flagship behind (which is generally not recommended). It's also handy for disrupting cards that trigger on certain rounds, especially if they need to be set to specific rounds (like Garm, Tagge, etc.).
      • Normally, Surprise Attack is used to try to go after the enemy flagship if possible, but this method allows you to try to remove it from the game for some time as well. Don't forget it's an option if your opponent picks Surprise Attack as an "easy out," planning to subvert the raid tokens somehow and go after you early on.
        • You can keep it flexible if you like by deploying the station at distance 5 but as close to the short edge as possible. If your opponent suspects you're trying to strand his flagship, he may deploy very aggressively on the station. In that case, you can deploy aggressively to intercept it. If he deploys defensively, you can deploy in the opposite corner to strand it.
  • Because the first player can't deploy any ship at over half speed (rounded up) that also applies to the flagship, which should in most cases be deployed at speed 1 so other friendly ships can catch up to it.
  • Second player chooses his raid command dials after fleet deployment, so that might influence his decision.
    • Generally this choice is going to depend on the enemy fleet but given the positioning issues inherent to this objective, raiding navigate on the first round seems like a solid move, and it might be worth doing that again in round 2 or 3. 
      • Similarly, squadron-heavy fleets don't particularly want to be anti-squadron raided.
    • Remember that you can clear raid tokens upon the reveal command dial step by discarding the dial to wipe all the raid tokens or discarding a command token to wipe a matching raid token.
    • The stack, once set up, must be revealed from the top down, so you can't change the order you're giving out raid tokens once the game begins.
The image above shows how you can deploy the station barely at distance 5 and how your opponent deploying conservatively as possible can place their flagship. It's not a huge bump ahead of where they would normally be but it does expose the flagship to additional danger. Do note your opponent can deploy very aggressively with their flagship (so it's barely overlapping the station with its rear and pointed right at you) and squadrons can still be deployed distance 1-2 from the flagship, so if your opponent has the kind of fleet where they don't mind stranding their flagship out ahead to start beating you up pronto, you should place the station more conservatively or you run the risk of this objective getting flipped on you like Fleet Ambush (do note, though, that any squadron shenanigans plans can often get shut down by raiding for squadrons first thing). Placing the station in a corner or some such is an inconvenience for sure, but it makes it very easy for your opponent to castle up in a corner and buy time to handle the raid tokens, so don't go too far in the other direction.

 Make sure you bring along a lot of raid tokens if you're using this objective. If you hit something like my Worlds 2019 MSU fleet bringing 8 ships, you may need a total of 8 of each raid token.

What kind of fleets should consider using Surprise Attack?
It's a surprisingly versatile objective but generally it's the best fit with a fleet that can be aggressive early on to put the fear of God into that flagship but also appreciates the raid token assistance. Fleets with a good number of reasonably fast combat ships and low to no squadrons seem to fit that bill pretty well, especially if they're also packing Slicer Tools or similar command screwage to shut down squadron commands even after raid tokens get wiped. Raiding for navigate round 1 (to stop the rest of the fleet from catching up) followed by raiding for squadrons rounds 2 and 3 is a big inconvenience to a squad-heavy fleet.

If you yourself are running a squadron-heavy squadron fleets and your meta is full of squad fleets, Surprise Attack can still give you an edge going after the flagship early and making your opponent's squadrons more inefficient in the crucial early rounds.

If you have ways of further inconveniencing the flagship through its forced deployment or starting speed, like putting a G7-X grav well token on the station (guaranteed speed 0 for the flagship) and/or changing the flagship's speed with Admiral Titus, Surprise Attacks becomes even more appealing. Titus in particular can take a conservative flagship speed 1 and crank it down to starting speed 0 while you raid for navigate and gun it to kill the defenseless flagship. If your opponent doesn't care for walking into that trap and deploys at speed 2, Titus can crank it up to speed 3 and again raid for nav and watch the flagship potentially outpace the rest of its fleet. A smart opponent will deploy at least partially sideways against Titus for this reason (so if they're pushed up to speed 3 they eat up more horizontal table space than vertical table space) but even that can be anticipated and deployed against.

Effectively, the main question you should be asking yourself when choosing Surprise Attack over other options is "do I gain more of a benefit from this than from a red objective that helps me while also providing points?" If you use the raid tokens well, I think the answer is yes. But if you're not really sure, I'd recommending reconsidering.

What kind of enemy fleets are disadvantaged by playing Surprise Attack?
As mentioned above, squadron-heavy fleets don't particularly enjoy getting anti-squadron raided in the early game. There are methods to get around it (token passing with Comms Net, etc.) but it makes activation order clunkier and the fleet less nimble even if you can, not to mention can complicate plans to do other commands while you're trying to clear up those annoying raid tokens.

If your fleet is built around a wombo-combo super flagship, having your flagship hung out to dry early on away from the rest of your support elements can be dangerous.


  1. DCO cancels the special objective crit effects, right? Does that mean choosing those objectives if you're running a DCO SSD or DCO on your main ship whatever it is would be kind of a no-brainer?

    1. It does, yes. DCO is a good way to minimize the downsides there but be careful - the rest of your ships are still fair game and even if DCO is on a big target like your SSD, if you're careless the enemy fleet can burn through your contain tokens and give you a bad time.

  2. For Surprise Attack : you can't use Comm net to counter the raid token.
    Because the raid tokens are given to ALL the ships of the first player, including the flotillas!

    So you can deny one or more orders to the opponent ("no you won't do some Nav/Squadrons order until the 4th turn").

    1. Yes you can, actually. Raid only prevents resolving the command, not taking tokens or passing them. A comms net flotilla can take the token, pass it to a friend (no commands are being resolved there) and when the friend activates it can discard the nav token to clear the anti nav raid token.

  3. For Surprise Attack : Can I place the station out of the setup area ? It's not specify on the objective (with intel qweep or fire lines, it's specify).

    1. I'm 95% sure you can't, given the conventional deployment rules disallow anything (even squads being placed within D2 of a friendly ship) from being placed outside the setup area.

      You can always place it in a corner on the edge of their setup area, which is mean enough if you want the flagship to sit in the naughty boy time out corner.

  4. I understand.
    My idea was to place the station overlap the little edge. Like this SSD can't turn without be out.

    And with grav shiv reroute ? i can place the station out of the setup area ?

    1. You can move the station later, but by that point the ships have already been deployed so it doesn't really make a difference.

  5. ha yes I forgot this detail
    thanks for all

  6. Rift assault seems to have some weird mathy interactions with Intensify Firepower (or any other effect that specifically turns a blank to a face) that aren't immediately apparent.

    For player two it works out to the effect that an attack outside the safety zone of obstacles that rolls two or more dice can never roll lower than 2 damage with sole exception of mono-blue attacks. And if two blanks are rolled on an attack of any size the combination of IF+objective adds a flat 2 damage to it. (As well as no attack can roll fewer than 1 accuracy if desired.)

    That seems like some truly insane consistency, especially for MSU/papercut fleets. Even if the special effects didn't generate victory tokens that still sounds like a top tier objective for just about ANY fleet running IF.

  7. Just wanted to issue a correction for Marked for Destruction: Eric claims that Marked for Destruction can trigger 6 times at most, but Ezra Bridger can be used to move a purrgil (and trigger Marked for Destruction) during the ship phase allowing for a 7th potential trigger.

  8. Has any first player actually ever chosen Surprise Attack as the mission to play? Having to deploy the Flagship first and the restrictions on speed seems a bad enough restriction, though I can see some fleets not particularly caring about those. But once you then add in the Raid tokens for three turns? My local group and I can't figure out the appeal in taking this mission at all, as it seems way too powerful for the second player if they know what they're doing. Whenever I take it, it's essentially to channel my opponent into taking my yellow or blue objective, as I just can't see it ever being chosen. And whilst I can pick nasty Yellow objectives (Usually Asteroid Tactics or Fleet in Being), I've yet to find a blue objective so advantageous that Surprise Attack looks the better option.

    1. It really depends on the fleets involved, but if your flagship is fairly tanky you can get away with picking Surprise Attack. The raid token effect is also fairly toothless against fleets that have an easy time producing tokens (like Tarkin fleets) or fleets that can modify speed (like Ozzel fleets or Entrapment Formation leets) without needing to resolve navigate commands to change speed early on. Sometimes it's the least bad option.

      You can sometimes deploy the flagship sideways or even pointing backwards (if it's nimble enough, like a CR90 or MC30 flagship) so it can stall or turn around to rejoin the rest of the fleet without exposing itself to undue danger.