|They turned our beautiful triangle into a capital T.|
|Don't post ass pictures on the internet, kids.|
|of the board. Attacking you from extreme range.|
At a casual glance, we notice a few things about the Onager:
- It has an awful lot of shields in the front but isn't so hot everywhere else.
- The single brace and redirect and no defensive retrofit slot further complicate matters. This ship, despite appearances, is roughly as durable as a Victory-class Star Destroyer. Arguably worse if your opponent can focus a attacks on your sides and rear and ignore the front altogether.
- Command 3 is fine but can get a bit burdensome at times. Particularly for an Onager, knowing when to con fire versus navigate (to turn or run away) can be important.
- Engineering 3 is poor on a large ship. Repair commands can still be clutch, but the Onager is still getting outdone by smaller ships like the VSD and is inferior to the same-sized ISD in this regard.
- Its Squadron value is awful, particularly on the Testbed but still poor on the Star Destroyer.
- The non-special battery dice in its arcs are poor to middling at best. The Onager Star Destroyer at least has 3 rear dice, which is useful with its salvo token.
Normally I don't get too much into rules with ship articles but given the unique nature of the Ignition weapons and rules, it seems best to cover that first:
Special battery and Ignition rules
Let's talk about the special battery (the pink box of dice on the above cards) and how you use it.
Your special battery has its own special arc which is nested inside of the Onager's front arc. If you fire your special battery, it counts as an attack from your front arc, so you couldn't fire out of your front arc afterwards for your second allowed attack unless you had a Gunnery Team equipped.
The Onager inherently has Ignition [close] and upgrades (we'll get there) allow it to also gain other Ignition ranges. At the end of the Onager's activation, it may put an Ignition token within (meaning "completely within, not a hair outside of" its special battery firing arc and also within one of its available ranges. So if you have Ignition [close] and Ignition [long], no portion of the token can be at medium range but so long as it's within close or long, you're good. If you have Ignition [close] and Ignition [medium], you would need to choose which of the two, because it couldn't straddle the line between them. You need to choose one Ignition range and keep that token within it.
At the beginning of the Onager's attack step, it must make an Ignition attack as its first attack if it has a token on the board and an enemy ship is in the special battery firing arc. Once that attack is over, remove the Ignition token. If you don't end up making an Ignition attack, the token still vanishes at the end of your attack step.
When making an Ignition attack, you measure line of sight and range from the special battery firing arc on the Onager to the target. You can attack from outside of long range. You determine which dice you roll based on the range measurement from the Ignition token to the ship (cardboard to cardboard) you're shooting. A few notes about this:
- The short version is "range from the token determines what dice you roll, but everything otherwise works the same."
- You measure range from the token to any part of the ship token (the cardboard) on the ship you're attacking, not the hull zone you are attacking.
- For example, if a ship zips between your Onager and an Ignition token placed within long range, you may very well be shooting their front hull zone with the Ignition attack but determining what dice get rolled based on the range from the Ignition token to their back arc (the closest part of their cardboard to the token).
- Evade tokens and other range-based effects are determined on range from the Onager's special firing arc to the target.
- All attacks made from outside long range are extreme range and are not long range.
- This means Krennic won't allow for rerolls at extreme range, for example.
- Evade tokens used at extreme range cancel two dice, so be careful going after zippy evade ships way out there.
When in doubt, consult the rules pamphlet that comes with the Onager. It's got some good example diagrams as well.
Basic usage recommendations
A lot is going to depend on exactly how you upgrade your Onager and which Onager variant you start with, but for starters I strongly recommend equipping one of the two Ignition super weapon upgrades, which extends your Ignition range to medium or long (depending). You're mostly bringing the Onager for the super gun, so sticking with the built-in close-ranged option as your only means of placing an Ignition token isn't a good idea. We'll cover the superweapon upgrades right now.
A brief intermission to talk about superweapons
|Also known as "blue laser."|
- A reminder it only works on Ignition attacks.
- It can only trigger on a red critical icon, even though its effect references both red and blue critical icons.
- The defender suffers all the damage in one-damage packets, so they choose a hull zone each time.
- This generally means "keep having my shields eat it until I don't have shields left."
Generally-speaking, you need to be a bit more aggressive with your Onager to get SCBTs working, as Ignition range is "only" medium and you want all the red and blue dice in the pool you can get, but the payoff is a good amount of extra damage.
|Also known as "red laser."|
- Another reminder that these only work on Ignition attacks.
- Once again, it can only trigger on a red critical icon.
- The damage hits every ship ship and squadron at distance 1 of the initial target, so pre-measure to your own models before you commit to the crit if you'd rather not damage them.
- Because it's generic damage, ships take it to a hull zone, meaning shields take it first.
- It's still just one hull zone, though, with no defense tokens, so if they've got 1 shield (like a flotilla), it can't be spread across multiple hull zones to keep damage from hitting the hull.
- Squadrons don't get defense tokens against the damage, as it's not an attack. So zap those scatter aces guilt-free.
Back to everything else
When sniping with your Ignition attack, it's good to take a look at what has and hasn't activated already, consider whether your Onager is going to activate first next round (to get the shot in ASAP), and place your token accordingly. The token itself is pretty generous with its measurement (allowing you to draw a line directly from the token to an enemy ship), but your special firing arc isn't as forgiving. The immediate desire is to activate after a target, put the Ignition token next to it, and then activate pronto next round to blast it before it can escape. There's nothing wrong with that, but I've found with a little patience it's not difficult to set the token in such a place where I can be more flexible with my activation order. Getting a large and/or slow ship out of the firing arc against a good Onager player can be difficult for an opponent to do. It takes practice, basically. When in doubt, even if you're not going first and don't have a lot of activations you can get work done by forking enemy ships if they're traveling close enough together. You do need to be careful about speedy and/or maneuverable ships, though, as they can not only arc-dodge you pretty well but they can also use their evade tokens to vex you at extreme range by removing 2 dice (or 3 if they're willing to super-spend the evade and they're small or medium sized). The Onager is a tank destroyer in space: ideally it should be going after heavier prey where its damage sticks better and it's easier to line up the shot.
Like all expensive ships, the later you can deploy the Onager the better. Ideally you can find a nice little sniper nest a bit removed from what's shaping up to be the main battle. This way you can keep firing from a safe distance and adjusting your facing to keep targets in range but not heading towards them faster than necessary.
Speaking of moving directly towards danger, the Onager really doesn't like taking serious punches back, whether that's large dice pools with accuracy icons or moderate to small dice pools applied regularly, especially to a side or rear hull zone (1 redirect and bad shields 😢). You do generally need to move towards the opposing fleet to keep your super-gun on target, however, so always take stock of when/if you'll need to cut and run. Until then, keep your speed as low as possible (including 0 on occasion, especially with Rakehell) to prolong how long it takes for the opposing fleet to get up in your business.
Your side arc line of sight dots are placed in such a way that it's tough to attack to your side arcs without committing to outflanking the Onager, so keep your front towards trouble at all times. You've got a decent enough nav chart and assistance from navigate dials for a double-click first joint can keep you well-positioned.
There's nothing wrong with placing an Ignition token in uncertain circumstances just to see if you can make it happen. You're only required to make the Ignition attack next round if there's something in the special firing arc to shoot. Just be aware that an opponent who isn't keen on being double-arced, for example, might place something like a flotilla at extreme range just to eat the mandatory shot (especially if you're only rolling in a few red dice), forcing you to waste a front arc attack.
They're all good, I'm pleased to say. As a quick aside, note that the Onager Testbed is not a Star Destroyer and so can't take the Seventh Fleet title. The Onager-class Star Destroyer is, unsurprisingly, a Star Destroyer and can. This is the first ship where the two variants differ on whether they can take a name title upgrade.
- Essentially, Cataclysm provides a different optional timing window for when it can place its Ignition token, otherwise following all the restrictions as normal.
- There's nothing stopping you from placing your Ignition token normally and then using Cataclysm to move it during the next Ship Phase if you want to.
- Because Cataclysm triggers during the Ship Phase, this allows you to fire off your superweapon on its first activation if you can feed it a concentrate fire token in the first Ship Phase from someone like Hondo or Grand Moff Tarkin and there's an enemy ship in range, which usually requires something like an objective that gets them closer to you or you to them (like Fleet Ambush or Surprise Attack) and/or Officer Ozzel to bump you a bit closer.
- If your opponent serves a ship up on a plate, you can always hope to have a poor unfortunate dope wander into range of the token and in arc of the super weapon, but good luck pulling that off against a player who sees it coming.
Cataclysm is also a counter in a way to ships showing up suddenly, like with Admiral Raddus, Profundity, or Hyperspace Assault. You don't know where to aim for a ship that's not on the table yet at the end of the Onager's activation, but with the right maneuvering, you can make large swathes of the table dangerous places for a ship appearing out of nowhere at the start of the round provided you get to set your token at the start of the Ship Phase.
Obviously, anything that helps supply Cataclysm with con fire tokens is ideal for this title. If it's emergency use only, then Hondo (as I mentioned earlier) would do fine, but otherwise some more consistent supply will be necessary to really get mileage out of it.
navigate command, so a dial will give you access to a full two clicks of yaw (adding 1 click to the 1 allowed by Rakehell). It's unclear exactly how Jerjerrod or Take Evasive Action affect Rakehell given speed 0 has no inherent or "first" yaw value, but Rakehell gives it a temporary value. This will require an FAQ.
It should be briefly noted that Rakehell doesn't allow you to spend defense tokens at speed 0, just the repositional maneuver when resolving a navigate command. So keep Rakehell safe, as anything that gets to it at speed 0 is going to cause some problems.
Otherwise, Rakehell is a great way for a nav-obsessed Onager to keep repositioning its front arc without getting closer to the enemy fleet. You can even combine it on the Testbed with Engine Techs to do a 2-click speed 0 maneuver followed by a 1-click speed 1 extra Engine Techs maneuver if you really want to shimmy around a bit without committing to actually increasing your current speed.
Generally, I consider the Rakehell a Testbed title because the Testbed is superior at the extreme end of extreme range due to 4 red dice (so it doesn't mind sitting at speed 0 and getting some initially "meh" attacks in), tends to prefer the Orbital Bombardment Particle Cannons for long range Ignition tokens, and has the support team slot for Engine Tech shenanigans to get you out of speed 0 trouble quickly when it gets worrisome.
Sunder cats, ho!
- Unlike the super weapons, Sunder triggers on a non-red crit (blue or black, it's not picky).
- Remember you can only trigger one critical effect per attack unless you're using Fire-Control Team, so you may need to decide between Sunder and your Ignition critical.
- Sunder isn't limited to your Ignition attack but it sure is a lot easier to trigger that way.
- Sunder can only remove basic weapon upgrades (turbolaser, ion cannon, ordnance) or basic retrofits (offensive and defensive).
|"It's nothing personal, dead people far away."|
The Testbed is focused almost entirely around its Ignition attack, being substantially cheaper and more bare-bones than the Star Destroyer variant we'll get to in a little bit. Its Squadron value is terrible and it has less dice at a generally shorter range in its regular arcs and only 2 rear dice to use with salvo. The upside is its special battery boasts 4 red dice, which allows it to really reach out and touch someone. If you want to bring an Onager primarily for its Ignition attack and want to keep it fairly safe and out of the way, the Testbed is the variant for you.
Like all large ships, this can be a particularly competitive slot. For my money, the big options are:
- Intel Officer. You want your Ignition attack to count, and given you're generally trying to stay away from trouble and lob attacks from downtown, Intel Officer can get your attacks to stick better than any other officer.
- A defensive officer of some kind. Your call betweeen Tua and Brunson for the most part. The Onager a bit glass-jawed, so taking protective measures is never a bad idea. I tend to prefer Intel Officer on the Testbed, but I also usually build it for long-ranged Ignition attacks.
You get two of them, which is pretty neat. There are a few "generally crappy" weapon team upgrades that see some surprising use on the Onager, so get ready for that. Given Onagers want both dice fixing and crit assistance (given they've got their own inherent Ignition crits), you can pretty much divide the options into those two teams, although I'd go with at least one dice-fixer unless you've got enough external support for that.
- Fire-Control Team is our first "binder fodder but maybe not" upgrade option on the Onager given it has a wealth of options for criticals, especially with Sunder and an Ignition weapon, and they only use one of the two weapon team slots available.
- Weapons Battery Techs are helpful for increasing the odds of your critical effects going off, improving the odds of a red crit happening on your Ignition attack from 68.3% to 84.7%. Giving up the accuracy can be a bit rough, though, so I'd mostly consider these with the Superheavy Composite Beam Turbolasers where you want as many red crits as you can generate.
- Ordnance Experts gives you easy access to a reroll for the black dice in your Ignition attack. It otherwise won't see a lot of use beyond your flak attacks, but it's still a fairly cheap fairly reliable way to get dice consistency from nearly half your Ignition attack dice pool. They also combine well with...
- Veteran Gunners is our second "generally terrible but here not so much" option on the Onager. Especially when combined with a more general-purpose dice control upgrade in the other weapon team slot. You can, for example, reroll everything if your Ignition attack's red dice turned out poorly and then reroll any uncooperative black dice with Ordnance Experts, making the decision on whether to reroll everything a bit easier. Besides Ordnance Experts, they also combine well with...
- Gunnery Chief Varnillian. Because she lets you swap out a die on her card during the Resolve Attack Effects step once per attack (a "while" effect), you can grab a good die pre-Veteran Gunners reroll and replace it with her blank die, keeping it for later on. Or vice versa, use a saved good die to help fix an inevitable red blank after your Veteran Gunners reroll. She works best when you can get more than one attack per round to cycle through dice well to set up a good Ignition attack every round, but she's all-around helpful here.
- Sensor Team is our third "has Eric gone insane?" weapon team upgrade I'd recommend. Normally they're pretty terrible, but the Testbed doesn't have a lot of dice control options inherently available and mostly focuses on its single big attack. Being able to turn a blank die and a red die into a single accuracy can be handy for your Ignition snipe attacks, and you still have your remaining 5 dice available for getting damage in.
This is a Testbed specialty and the obvious choice is Engine Techs: the Onager wants to stay at a low speed until things get too hot and then it would very much like to get out of Dodge. When it comes to big speed jumps, accept nothing but the best. If you've got access to a consistent stream of nav tokens, Nav Team isn't bad either and can allow for easy 2-click maneuvers on the first joint (even on Rakehell) to keep you pointed in the right direction.
Otherwise, a lot of the defensive support teams like Auxiliary Shield Techs are counting on repair commands that you're frankly not good at doing and shouldn't really prioritize. Medical Team is fine in a pinch if you otherwise don't want to put the points down for anything else.
We covered these much earlier and for my money, the Testbed is ideal for the Orbital Bombardment Particle Cannons, as it wants to stay out of trouble and get mileage primarily from its Ignition attack and the OBPCs are the longest-range superweapon and also the cheapest. There's also less temptation to go crit-chasing like there is with the Superheavy Composite Beam Turbolasers.
That said, you can certainly try running it with the SCBTs if you'd prefer for the extra damage. You'll just need to prioritize upgrades that generate crit results and preferably a defensive officer because you'll be taking a bit more heat for sure.
Orbital Bombardment Particle Cannons, Rakehell, Intel Officer, Veteran Gunners, Ordnance Experts, Engine Techs
The Awesome (Battletech reference for you nerds out there) wants to post up and spam its big ol' particle cannon until that's no longer feasible, and then it wants to run away. This is pretty much my default Testbed Onager build, although there's room for variations of course. The main thing to keep in mind with the Awesome is it's generally hungry for nav dials at all times: if it's safe to stay at speed 0, it wants the double-click adjustment. If it's not, it wants to be able to step on the gas with Engine Techs, preferably with a companion nav token. The occasional concentrate fire dial can help but when in doubt, nav.
Orbital Bombardment Particle Cannons, Cataclysm, Officer Ozzel, Veteran Gunners, Gunnery Chief Varnillian, Hondo somewhere else in your fleet
Same-Day Delivery is looking to get an Ignition attack off in the first round by using Cataclysm and extending the threat range as much as possible, regardless of whether or not your opponent chose an enabling objective. Assuming you deploy your Onager as far up as possible and use your Ozzel move to go straight ahead, this is what you're looking at for access to attacks in the enemy's deployment zone:
This trick requires Hondo or Tarkin to give out a con fire token during the first Ship Phase, but otherwise it's the kind of trick most opponents won't forget. As I mentioned earlier with the Cataclysm title, objectives that get your opponent deploying closer to you make this even better.
|Remember, selfies with your BFF are more fun.|
The Onager-class Star Destroyer is a considerable 14 points more expensive than the Testbed, a 15% increase, making it one of the largest differences in variant cost in the game by both percentage and total cost. For all of this, it gains:
- An extra blue die on its flak attacks.
- Squadron value improved from 1 to 2.
- Special battery changed from 4 red 3 black dice to 3 red 2 blue 2 black dice.
- A red die added to every hull zone's battery armament, with the side arc blue die then changing to a black die.
- The improvement to the rear arc brings its salvo up to 3 total dice, which is pretty good.
- Replaces the support team slot with a turbolaser slot.
Given you'll want to get a bit closer and more into the fight with the Star Destroyer chassis, it's still basically the same options as above but with a higher priority given to the defensive officers. It's a tough call between Tua and Brunson for me: I'd probably lean Tua if going for the Superheavy Composite Beam Turbolasers, usually with Electronic Countermeasures. If I'm using the longer-ranged Orbital Bombardment Particle Cannons, then Brunson works better against smaller dice pools, which you'll get a bit more of due to your long range.
Again, roughly the same as before. That said, there are some definite differences:
- Ordnance Experts are less appealing with only 2 black dice in your special battery, even though they do help a little bit with your other attacks (as you have one black die in every non-rear arc as well as in your flak).
- Weapons Battery Techs are more appealing if you're using the Superheavy Composite Beam Turbolasers, as you'll want as many critical icons as you can get. It can either help trigger the red critical or add additional blue dice to the effect as needed.
- It's worth considering a Gunnery Team if you intend to attack two different targets from your front arc. Only having 2 red 2 blue and 1 black in your front arc doesn't really make it an amazing attack, but if you're keeping your front alone towards the enemy fleet, it may be the only way to get both your allowed attacks each round.
- Gunnery Chief Varnillian is better if you can regularly get at least 2 attacks, as she lets you shuffle dice from one attack to the one you care more about better (typically from your regular attack to your Ignition attack, but not always).
- She triggers on salvo attacks (against ships) as well, making being in range to salvo back more appealing here too.
- With a larger number of dice in the regular arcs and 2 blue dice in the special battery, Sensor Team is back to "probably shouldn't even bother" when it comes to the Star Destroyer variant.
Here's where it gets fun. Because you're almost assuredly bringing a Superweapon upgrade, the modification turbolasers are out but you still have a lot of options, and they work on the Ignition attack!
- Linked Turbolaser Towers. A free reroll of a single red die on every attack (including Ignition and salvo) can really pay off, as can the super-shot against a single squadron if you need it. The second use is primarily useful with Gunnery Team, as otherwise expect all the squadrons to camp your front hull zone.
- XI7 Turbolasers. Making redirects worse with large dice pools is always appealing, especially if you're packing an Intel Officer to go after the brace.
- XX-9 Turbolasers. This is a niche option but it's worth considering if you're building around crits, especially with Fire-Control Team. Triggering the Superheavy Composite Beam Turbolasers and XX-9s against a ship with few remaining shields is just evil.
You can go either way, really. I tend to prefer the Superheavy Composite Beam Turbolasers, as your Star Destroyer variant will want to be a bit closer to the fight so the Ignition[Medium] is less of an issue. You've also got 5 total red and blue dice compared to the Testbed's 4 red dice, so the damage ceiling on the SCBTs is just a bit higher. The Orbital Bombardment Particle Cannons are still a fine low-maintenance choice too, though, so it's your call.
Big Game Hunter
Orbital Bombardment Particle Cannons, Intel Officer, Veteran Gunners, Gunnery Chief Varnillian, XI7 Turbolasers
You want to find the biggest ship you can and put hurt into it from quite a ways away while using Intel Officer to give its brace the stink-eye and using XI7s to make its redirects worse. Veteran Gunners and Gunny V work together to give you better dice consistency to make the shot stick.
I Needa Bit More Dice Fixing
Orbital Bombardment Particle Cannons, Captain Needa, Gunnery Chief Varnillian, Veteran Gunners, Turbolaser Reroute Circuits
You replace your salvo with evade to power the TRCs, which give you a guaranteed crit when you need it and double-hit when you don't. I am iffy about replacing your salvo on a ship with a 3-dice rear arc but between TRCs, Gunny V, and Ordnance Experts, you have an awful lot of dice fixing packed into this ship. For extra fun, don't forget to use Gunny V and TRCs together to swap in a bad banked die to then flip it to something good or conversely use it the other way around to set a die to a double-hit and then bank it up for later.
Bad Times Ahead
Superheavy Composite Beam Turbolasers, Sunder, Weapon Battery Techs, Fire-Control Team, XX-9 Turbolasers. Captain Jonus on the side.
The Bad Times Ahead build is janky. Let's get that out of the way immediately. It seeks to get critical results and then combines them with Fire-Control Team to trigger a double critical. Weapon Battery Techs help find an accuracy to turn into a crit, but with Captain Jonus you can guarantee this effect to trigger a crit in the first place or add extra crits to help your SCBTs (keep Jonus safe, though!). Early on, you want to fire off both Sunder and the SCBTs, but afterwards as the target's shields decrease they help get the SCBTs firing consistently and at higher damage plus the XX-9's critical effect.