Sunday, February 2, 2020

Wave 8 upgrades: weapon teams

Moving right along, we're covering new weapon teams (one of which is a boarding team).

Slowly piecing together her Darth Vader cosplay.
Gunnery Chief Varnillian, also known as Gunny V, also known as Leslie Knope of the Department of Parks and Wrecks Your Station.
Leslie Knope understands how ignition tokens work, which makes her great on Onagers.
Let's cover some rules:
  • Leslie's initial dice bank happens after her ship deploys, which is normally at the start of the game but sometimes later if there are shenanigans like Hyperspace Assault.
    • Generally you want that red die to be the double-hit side if you're second player, but you can make an argument for a crit (if you have a special crit to trigger) or accuracy.
  • Leslie's dice swap triggers whenever her ship attacks a ship, and that includes when making salvo attacks.
    • Specifically, this happens in the Resolve Attack Effects step, so you can do this before or after all kinds of other effects that reroll and set die faces, etc. 
    • It's particularly strong snagging a good die from the current pool and swapping in a blank die and then rerolling or flipping the blank die to something else.
  • Like all other add effects, Leslie can add dice that aren't normally associated with that range. You can store up a black crit die and add it to a future long-ranged attack to trigger Assault Concussion Missiles from downtown, for example.
Leslie is the first unique Imperial weapons team, following a ways behind Caitken & Shollan for Rebels. Her main competition is the ever-present Gunnery Team and Ordnance Experts. Given she's competing for that highly-contested weapon team slot, you're looking for a ship that wants some extra dice fixing/dice banking that doesn't want one of the big two instead. There aren't a lot of Imperial ships in that situation barring the Onager (that she comes packaged with, unsurprisingly). Beyond that, she has some janky potential when used in a fleet with Vader or Screed on a crit-dependent ship: the commander handles some of the dice-fixing you otherwise wanted your weapon team for, and Leslie can hold onto a spare crit die to ensure you can convert surplus crits on one attack into a guaranteed crit on future attack with less dice (like a Raider side arc, for example) or from long range (like adding a black crit to a Gladiator front arc attack outside of close range). She can also hold on to accuracy icon to add to a future attack, like stashing up an otherwise-wasted accuracy at long range from a Gladiator-I so you can add it to an all-black side arc attack later, where normally it's impossible to roll an accuracy with all black dice.

Deciding when to use Leslie's dice-banking ability to make a current attack a bit worse in order to make a future attack better takes some practice and a keen eye for your opponent's defense tokens. If you're throwing in a good amount of damage and your opponent is going to brace anyways, reducing an attack from an even amount of damage to an odd amount of damage results in the same damage post-brace, so that's a good opportunity (example: if you're attacking for 6, swapping in her bad blank red die for a crit icon die results in the brace still reducing the damage to 3). Similarly, if you're attacking at long range and your opponent is going to evade your double anyways, might as well swap it out for a single hit and save it up for later. Just consider all your opponent's defensive options to keep your opportunities open without seriously hampering your current attack.

Don't ask us, we just pour the green lasers into the laser tube.
Local Fire Control (confusingly for us often being shortened to LFC, the same initialism we at CGYSO use for "large fighter coverage") is pretty straightforward: once its ship deploys (either normally or later with something like Hyperspace Assault), you must replace one of your defense tokens with a salvo token. Until then, no decision needs to be made. It's often easiest replacing a contain with a salvo token (on most larger ships) but if it's a choice between a number of tokens (like an Assault Frigate MkII-A), you don't need to decide until deployment, so ditch whichever one you like the least in that matchup. If your ship already has a salvo token (like a Starhawk), you can always choose to replace its inherent salvo with a new salvo if for some reason you decide you would rather stick with your default token setup.

Local Fire Control, like most weapon team upgrades, needs to justify its existence compared to the big two of Gunnery Team and Ordnance Experts. Here you're looking for a ship that doesn't mind swapping a defense token (most are okay with it to some extent) and has a half-decent rear arc battery for salvo and doesn't mind using its weapon team slot on doing so. Generally this also wants some kind of built-in dice fixing to further guarantee the salvo attacks connect. A few example ships are:
  • Assault Frigate Mk-IIAs. Three rear dice makes salvo very strong for the points cost on an Assault Frigate A and it can take Linked Turbolaser Towers to keep the damage consistent.
  • Starhawks. Trading out the contain for a second salvo token plus the LTT combo option makes the Starhawk a pretty angry counter-attacker.
  • VSD-Is. VSD-Is that aren't specialized at a weapons-team-related task often aren't quite sure what to do with the slot. With Local Fire Control and LTTs (noticing a trend?) they can whip out some respectable red dice, especially on double arcs (3+2), with a 2 red salvo counter option as well if you're looking for mid-ranged mid-expense fire support with a DON'T GET CLOSE OR I'LL BITE element to it.

You see this cat Shriv is a bad mother (shut your mouth).
Shriv Suurgav is, to cut to the chase, a worse Rebel-version Darth Vader boarding team. He costs 3 more points and his target selection is limited to "basic" weapon upgrades, retrofits, and crew. That said, he's still pretty good in the right fleets and he can be delivered to the target less expensively overall due to how cheap Hammerheads are and fairly accurately given those Hammerheads can always pop out of the Profundity if necessary (Raddus optional).

Even though Shriv can't do the cute trick of vandalizing a title or removing an experimental retrofit or superweapon like Vader can, you can still get a lot of work done with the options available to him. Just like his evil asthmatic cyborg wizard counterpart, he's worth considering on smaller ships (obviously Hammerheads) for some drive-by harassment but also on MC75s and the like that want to get in close for some double-arcing nastiness and would prefer to remove defensive retrofits and the like before opening up on their target.

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