Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Imperial-specific upgrades

To bring the original two factions into line with how we'll be managing articles for the two new kids, it's time for me to give the Imperial-specific upgrades their own section. I'll be ignoring upgrades for Imperial ships that go in a unique slot, like the Interdictor experimental retrofits or the Onager superweapons, given those get covered in their respective articles. That leaves us with the non-officer more conventional upgrade slots here. Let's get to it!

The Empire's not all bad - look, they're turning those star destroyers into treehouses with rope ladders for the kiddos!

im in ur ship killin ur doodz lol

Darth Vader
seems to keep popping up in new places in the game, and in this case that place is aboard the enemy ship, discarding one of their upgrades that isn't a commander. Fierce! The only rule reminder is that Vader can only be used once in a fleet in any capacity, so no using him when he's already your commander or on a TIE Advanced, for example.

Every fleet has at least one upgrade it would really rather not lose, whether it's a clutch force multiplier upgrade like Home One, Yavaris, or a fleet command or simply "this helps me stay alive" upgrade like Electronic Countermeasures, Lando or the Adomonition title. Vader's here to hunt upgrades, which tends to draw a lot of attention. Any close-ranged ship that doesn't mind giving up the two upgrade slots is happy to have Vader on board although that usually means giving up on Ordnance Experts which can be a bit of a tough call. Typically you'll see him on Raider-Is, Kuat ISDs and the occasional Harrow VSD-I.

For extra fun times, see if you can get Vader to trash some Rapid Launch Bays or the Profundity title before the equipped ship can put the models inside on the table 😈.

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.

Seventh Fleet Star Destroyer
(hereafter "7th Fleet") is a durability-increasing name title that's Empire-only. Rules time!
  • When it says "Star Destroyer" only, it means "Star Destroyer" only. If the ship has Star Destroyer in the name, you can equip this title to it. 
  • It's a title, so it uses the title slot. You can't be both Chimaera and a Seventh Fleet Star Destroyer (even though Chimaera is the flagship of the Seventh Fleet but whatever).
  • To be clear, to use 7th Fleet, you need to have a 7th Fleet ship under attack in its front hull zone and then point to and exhaust a different 7th Fleet ship's title at distance 1-4. 
    • You can only exhaust one7th Fleet title per attack, so no exhausting several copies all at once to reduce damage by X.
  • Like all effects that reduce damage, it occurs after damage is halved by brace and stacks with other damage reduction effects.

Right off the bat, you're going to notice pretty quickly that your star destroyer options are fairly limited: you get all of Gladiator-, Victory-, Imperial- and half of the Onager-class Star Destroyers. None of those are exactly the cheapest ships, although the Gladiator and VSD-I can be fielded fairly affordably if you go light on the upgrades, which helps make up for how expensive an ISD can be. That said, every single one of those ships has some great title options and if you're going to make 7th Fleet work, you need to choose to take 7th Fleet instead of those titles. That's a hard sell, especially when you need to leave behind ship-defining titles like Demolisher or Harrow or excellent utility titles like Chimaera or Sovereign.

Furthermore, you'll need to have enough 7th Fleet available for it to make a difference. Similar to how Hammerheads running their teamwork titles will usually want 3+ Hammerheads around with those titles so there's always a buddy nearby and it's harder to quickly knock them down to only 1 title-holder, rendering the card useless, you'll want 3+ Star Destroyers. That's a bit of a tall order in a 400 point game, imposing some severe restrictions on your fleet build and giving up some great title options for the "good but not amazing" benefits of 7th Fleet. In short: I strongly discourage you from trying to make 7th Fleet a thing in a 400 point fleet. It just isn't worth the hassle. That said, it's a lot of fun in big epic for funsies games when you just want to get a bunch of angry triangles on the table.

Assuming you're using 7th Fleet for fun in a large game, there's only a few other pieces of advice I have for you:

  • Stack it with other damage reduction. Expert Shield Tech plus 7th Fleet can spend a redirect and exhaust a copy of 7th Fleet to reduce damage by 2. That's a lot of fun.
  • Try to keep your 7th Fleet teams together. If you've got a black dice murder party, then your Kuats and Gladiators can hang out together. If you have an artillery crew of VSDs and ISDs, that's a good team too. Mixing your "run up and smash face" 7th Fleet ships with your "sit back and shoot" 7th Fleet ships won't work so hot: you'll either need to separate them into wolf packs of other friends that want to do the same kind of thing or rebuild the entire group from the ground up, depending on how many points you can spare.
  • Run Blockade Run. No, for real. You want to get shot in the face? Fight in a bowling alley.
    • Extra fun in large games where it quickly descends into a bloody melee!

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