Sunday, May 30, 2021

Separatist ship review: Munificent-class frigate

The first serious Separatist warship we'll be discussing is the Munificent-class frigate. It's a dependable scrappy and adaptable little medium-based ship that operates very differently from every other medium-based ship in the game.

Plus it looks neat.

Given the Separatists get their military resources primarily from merchant guilds and trade federations, it's not surprising a number of their ships are named for terms relating to wealth. In this case, "munificent" means a person or gift that is generous, perhaps even over-generous. There you go, you learned something today. Impress your friends and family. Moving on to the stuff that won't impress most people...

I'm not sure I'll ever get used to the new ship card layouts.

Both variants of the Munificent frigate have a lot in common:
  • Command 2 makes it surprisingly responsive for a medium-based combat ship.
  • Engineering 4 is average for a medium-based brawler but very welcome given the Munificent is pretty cheap for a medium-based ship.
  • Top speed of 2 is slow, but it has a lot of yaw at speed 2, especially for its size.
  • 6 hull with 4/3/2 shields is identical to the Rebel Assault Frigate, but with a lower speed and no evade token, the Munificent comes off worse against attacks.
  • A good number of red dice all over and with 2 red dice in the rear arc and a salvo token you can get some work done with return fire if you need to.
  • Very generous side arcs that actually creep a little bit into the front of the ship's base (not pictured) make it ideal for double-arcing targets, especially with a double-click move to set it up.
  • A red flak die minimum on each means you can reach out and touch some squadrons, but don't count on an unaided red die too much against squads where it can be particularly fickle.

Basic usage recommendations
Without a weapon team slot to give you access to Gunnery Team, you really need to get attacks from both arcs for the Munificent's attacks to add up. The good news is the ship does very well at double-arcing so it shouldn't be too difficult to line up attacks from a front and side arc (or both sides if you're pretending you're Admiral Ackbar and sailing through an enemy formation, you lunatic) most rounds.

Red dice are still red dice. The more dice fixing you can provide, the better. There's something to be said for just piling on all the red dice you can with extra dice upgrades and the like but red dice can be very fickle.

With a low speed, you need to anticipate how to handle incoming threats. If you can escape, run for it. You've got pretty decent side and rear arc attacks and they're all long-ranged so you can harass would-be assailants as you get away. If you can't, bear down, go for double-arcs, and do as much damage as you can before you finally explode. A failed attempt at running away is the worst of both options, so think ahead and be realistic about your chances!

On a related note, your speed 1 yaw is nothing special but it keeps you at standoff range where your red dice can really add up. Your speed 2 yaw is great but it might bring you into range of your opponent's guns faster than you'd like. Having a navigate dial or token handy when necessary can be the difference between victory and defeat, so be ready to change speeds when necessary. A full nav dial adding extra yaw can also allow for an excellent II-II nav chart at speed 2 or a 2-click maneuver at speed 1, so when in doubt, navigate.

Like all medium combat ships, there's always the temptation to treat them like larger more expensive combat ships and go all-out on upgrading them. I urge restraint as much as possible in that regard. There are a few core upgrade choices I'd recommend (we're getting there!) but the goal should be to keep the Munificent as cheap as possible for its role given it's already a pretty inexpensive ship - it neither needs that much in the way of upgrades nor is it good for your fleet to pile 30+ points of upgrades onto a slower 70-point ship. Save those points for more ships and squadrons.

Similar to other slow ships like the Victory-class Star Destroyer, it helps to have defensive objectives that punish opponents for ignoring your slow Munificents if they would otherwise be tempted to. Again cribbing from the VSD, you really shouldn't be deploying your Munificents early where they're easier to deploy away from. Wait until your opponent has committed some resources to the board before putting your Munificent(s) in the neighborhood.

Titles
Both Munificent titles are neat little perks but neither really defines the ship like some of the Acclamator titles do for the Munificent's medium ship rival.

Looking like a robot shark hand puppet excited to go on an adventure.

Sa Nalaor rules bullet points:

  • "Speed 2 or higher" is future-proofing. Sorry, there isn't a hidden speed 3 option on the Munificent.
  • Spending a defense token as an evade still counts as spending that type of defense token, even if it resolves differently. If somehow in the future you can add a duplicate defense token to Munificents, you couldn't spend, for example, your redirect as a fake evade and then spend your other redirect as a redirect.
  • You can't discard the token to affect an extra die against a larger attacker like a regular evade token would allow you to do. Sa Nalaor simply resolves the evade effect, it does not treat the token as an evade token, which is required for the "overboost evade" discard-spend.

Sa Nalaor gives you a little bit of extra defensive oomph for your Munificent and it's only moderately expensive. Like usual for evade tokens, you get more use from it at long or extreme range but every little bit helps. That said, the easiest give-up here is spending your salvo as a fake evade when you're under stress so your brace and redirect can do their normal thing, which means Sa Nalaor should mostly be considered on Munificents that aren't looking to get much mileage from their salvo token. When you've taken a serious beating and you don't have shields to redirect to, Sa Nalaor can use the redirect as a fake evade, hopefully prolonging your Munificent's life just a bit longer.

"Sir, what happened to the first 11 Tides of Progress? Hello? Sir?"

Tide of Progress
bullet points!
  • 36 of the 52 cards in the damage deck have the Ship trait, meaning Tide of Progress has a 69% (nice) chance of working against any random faceup damage card.
    • This includes those 8 Structural Damages, everyone's favorite.
      • And Projector Misaligned.
  • Because Tide of Progress triggers as the faceup card is "en route" to the Munificent, the damage card never hits the hull, which means in addition to not suffering any effects from the card the damage point doesn't happen either.
  • The iconography means Tide of Progress doesn't refresh like normal unless you feed it a repair token during the Status Phase.

I love Tide of Progress and if you've got 2 points spare I'd highly recommend it. As I noted above, a shocking amount of the faceup cards in the damage deck are Ship damage cards and Tide of Progress just laughs at them. One use alone is probably enough but if you really want to, sure, go ahead and spend a repair token to refresh it and try to use it again. I consider it a one-and-done most of the time. I've had opponents refuse to resolve the regular critical effect because they don't want to give me the satisfaction of ignoring a damage card. For 2 points that's great. It's not a huge effect but it's a cost-effective one.

Comms Frigate

It's a giant robot space turkey firing lasers out of its armpits. Beautiful.

There are selling points for the Star Frigate (and we're getting to it next) but I'd recommend considering the Comms Frigate the default Munificent chassis. It's 3 points cheaper, it has Squadron 3, it's what you're usually looking for when you reach for a Munificent.

Other than Squadron 3, the Comms Frigate offers an offensive retrofit slot instead of the Star Frigate's defensive retrofit slot which makes it the "no duh" choice for carrier duties but also offers some other options, which we'll explore right now.

Upgrades
Officer
You're generally looking for a cheap option here and I'd strongly recommend Skilled First Officer as the default choice. He's only 1 point and he loves Command 2 ships so these two go great together.

Rune Haako is handy if you need easy access to extra tokens. He's a solid officer that tends to prefer being on heavier ships but he does just fine on a Munificent.

Wat Tambor has some fun combinations with various support teams that work with repair commands, which we'll talk about next. All on his own I wouldn't bother, but with the right setup he's amazing.

Tikkes does fine provided you're good with either spamming the same command constantly or switching back and forth between two of them all game. Some builds are fine with this, others absolutely not.

The other option I'd consider in-faction is a T-Series Tactical Droid. He's a bit more pricey at 4 points but the Munificent enjoys resolving repair, navigate, or squadron tokens as dials at least once a game, especially if you're using it primarily as a carrier. You'll need a token-feeding apparatus of course to really get mileage from it as Tacky the Droid consumes tokens at an alarming rate to both use his ability and to ready his card.

Support Team
The immediate thought is "of course it should be Engine Techs to bring it up to fake speed 3!" You can, but at the hefty cost of 8 points I get a little leery as at that point you've already added 11% to the Munificent cost with just one upgrade. I've got a couple other preferences, myself:

  • Medical Team is a very affordable option at 1 point and it combines very well with Tide of Progress to give you the option to ignore the first faceup card you take regardless of whether it is Crew or Ship type.
  • Fighter Coordination Team has obvious benefits on a carrier Munificent. In that case, you should consider a Flight Commander officer for the bonus synergy of being able to both FCT bump and then command squadrons after you move.
  • Auxiliary Shield Team is handy if you want a bit of extra durability and don't mind going for a repair command round 1 and potentially again later into the game. This combines well with the officer Wat Tambor for quickly stripping shields from other areas or other ships to supercharge your own.
  • Projection Experts is an awful lot of fun with Wat Tambor as well, but is also an interesting choice when spammed across your fleet to pile on repair commands into ships that need them.
    • This is generally best with a repair-focused Trench fleet.

Offensive Retrofit
You actually have a surprising number of options here and it depends what you want the Munificent to do. There's nothing wrong with leaving this slot empty if nothing really strikes your fancy but if I've got the 3 points and no other options are speaking to me, I'll usually go for Disposable Capacitors so I can throw those 2 blue dice at long range while I'm closing in. A double-arc at long range with concentrate fire for 8 total dice is nothing to laugh at. Otherwise, I'd consider:

  • Squadron-based upgrades. Your choice of Expanded Hangar Bays, Boosted Comms, Hyperwave Signal Boost, and Reserve Hangar Deck. 
    • If you're going with Flight Commander and Fighter Coordination Team I'd probably lean Expanded Hangar Bay to get an extra squadron bump on FCTs.
  • Proximity Mines. You're cheap and Engineering 4. You've got 4 points you'll spend on two proximity mines that make it harder to safely approach your slow Munificent(s). Sounds great.
  • Phylon Q7 Tractor Beams. With a source of raid like Dooku, being able to slow down ships and/or zap off nav tokens while raiding against navigate you can slow down approaching enemy ships, buying you another round or two of relative safety at the shooting gallery.
  • Flag Bridge. If your Munificent is the flagship, you've got some options. Specifically I'd recommend either Jedi Hostage or a one-shot use of Intensify Firepower.

Turbolaser
You need a really good reason not to take Linked Turbolaser Towers. This is the only upgrade I'm willing to splurge on for Munificents and it's worth it. You've got red dice everywhere and salvo and a red die for your flak. Being able to reroll a single red die in every attack works out excellently and helps keep your dice more consistent. Don't forget about being able to focus down the first squadron you attack too. It's so good it's basically stapled to both variants of the ship.

Ion Cannon
Offensive ion cannon upgrades really don't do much for the Munificent because it has all of 2 blue dice and they're both in the front arc. Kraken-led fleets can equip blue-crit ion cannon upgrades to get blue crits reliably out the front arc (and maybe a side arc if you go with Swivel-Mount Battery). Otherwise, I wouldn't bother with offensive ion cannon upgrades.

Point Defense Ion Cannons are worth considering if you want a bit of extra defensive oomph, especially against squadron attacks. The Munificent isn't exactly chomping at the bit to get into close range where the PDICs work so I'm not enthusiastic about PDICs on Munificents, but if it's part of your overall squadron-defense plan or if your meta is overrun by close-ranged ships then it can get some work done.

Builds

Dollar store shopping spree
Tide of Progress, Skilled First Officer, Medical Team, Linked Turbolaser Towers.
The only slots that aren't filled are the ion cannon and offensive retrofit slots and somehow we still only have 11 points in upgrades. The title, officer, and support team all come in at 4 altogether and we splurged the remaining 7 on the basically-stapled-to-the-ship Linked Turbolaser Towers. Disposable Capacitors aren't an expensive add for only 3 more points but they're not essential.

This is my default Munificent build and I love it. It gets a lot done with those cheap upgrades and can be surprisingly tough with Tide and Medical Team working together, often resulting in opponents choosing not to resolve the standard critical effect at all.

Carrier
Flight Commander, Fighter Coordination Team, Expanded Hangar Bay
For when you want to bump 4 squadrons and then command 4 squadrons but don't want to break the bank. This can fling already-speedy Separatist squads pretty far, giving you a pretty reliable alpha strike. Just be careful your Munificent can catch up to them to command again next round. If you can find the 7 points for Linked Turbolaser Towers, I'd get it on there but it gets a little pricey.

The alternative more bare-bones carrier build is:
T-Series Tactical Droid, Boosted Comms
This is a much more stripped-down basic carrier build. Fighter Coordination Team could still help a bit to bring squads up but without Flight Commander there isn't as much synergy. You could try a compromise option with the first two builds by including Linked Turbolaser Towers, Tide of Progress, and Medical Team for a mixed-role fighter-carrier.

Medibot Beep Boop
Wat Tambor, Projection Experts
There's a similar build with even more shenanigans for a Hardcell Transport but Medibot Beep Boop combines it with a more capable combat ship with a higher Engineering value so you've got your pros and cons either way. In short, whenever you resolve a repair command Wat can swipe shields from nearby ships (or even your own ship if necessary) to boost your repair points and then throw up to 2 shields at a friendly ship, perhaps even the same one you stole shields from (taking them from a safe hull zone and putting them in a threatened depleted hull zone). If necessary just steal shields and keep those repair points for yourself and don't use Projection Experts.

The combination of Wat and Projection Experts overcomes one of the critical limiting issues with Projection Experts which is normally to get good fleet coverage for Projection Experts you need to have it on 2+ ships in your fleet so it's not an easy choice for your opponent to just focus down the Projection Experts ship, where it won't do much to save itself or do much to help your fleet. In this case, you can maintain good fleet coverage by stealing shields from ship A with Wat to then throw shields at ship B and neither of the participants need to have Projection Experts to help one another: they just need Wat as the go-between. It's fun.

Star Frigate

Behold this fancy artwork of our ship exploding! That'll really improve droid morale.

For 3 points, the Star Frigate differs from the Comms Frigate in the following ways:

  • Loses 1 point of Squadron value (down to 2).
  • Gains a black die of flak (up to red + black).
  • Replaces offensive retrofit slot with a defensive retrofit slot.

That's it! Otherwise the battery values against ships remain exactly the same. So what's the selling point here? The flak upgrade is nice but fairly unremarkable unless the Munificent becomes the focus of enemy squadrons. The main selling point is the defensive retrofit slot, which generally recommends the Star Frigate to more of a flagship role or in metas where the defensive retrofit is of the utmost importance (for example, if your meta has a lot of Onagers with Intel Officers, Thermal Shields makes a huge difference in your Munificent's lifespan).

Upgrades
Basically the same as the Comms Frigate given how similar the two variants are. It might be worth considering Engine Techs in your support team slot if you're running your Star Frigate as your flagship and you want the possibility for extra zoomies in addition to your defensive retrofit to keep your commander alive. It gets pricey, though.

The Sa Nalaor title fits on the Star Frigate a little better than the Comms Frigate because in general the more defensive buffs you can stack, the better. It also helps with the goal of "this is where the commander hangs out and tries not to die."

Defensive Retrofit
The choice here largely comes down to tried-and-true Electronic Countermeasures or new hotness Thermal Shields. Electronic Countermeasures has the upside of being able to protect any of your single-copy defense tokens but is higher maintenance with its ready cost of a repair token. Thermal Shields has the upside of being pretty low-maintenance but it only helps your brace and it's not great against dice-add effects. It's largely up to you. I tend to lean Thermal Shields nowadays as it keeps the Munificents cheaper.

Builds
You can repurpose a number of the non-carrier builds for the Comms Frigate if you'd like the better flak and defensive retrofit slot the Star Frigate offers. If you really want to double down on the tankiness of the defensive retrofit you can go for:

Turtlebot 9000
Tide of Progress, Wat Tambor, Medical Team, Thermal Shields, Linked Turbolaser Towers
Wat's there to be greedy and steal shields from others to keep your (presumably) flagship Turtlebot rolling along plus you've got the Tide of Progess Medical Team combination to tell faceup damage cards to take a hike. This Munificent can handle a surprising amount of punishment. It's a pricier build but works well as a durable moderate-investment flagship.

7 comments:

  1. So, is there any value to using XI7 turbolasers with these as compared to LTTs, since they want to double arc? Or do they put out too little damage?

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    1. They don't put out enough damage in general for XI7s to really pay off strongly. You'll typically do 2-4 damage per attack, which is fine but not really strong enough for XI7s. Plus you get into the red dice unreliability where XI7s won't help when you flub the roll but LTTs can help keep them a bit more consistent.

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  2. Would RHD be worth listing as an alternative to DCaps on the budget build?

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    Replies
    1. Not by default, in my opinion. It's worth considering if you have generic Swarm squadrons to respawn, but that won't be true all the time and even in cases where it is, it might be preferable to use another squad-boosting offensive retrofit like Boosted Comms instead if the Munificent is going to be a more active carrier.

      Don't get me wrong, I like Reserve Hangar Decks. Respawning generic Swarm squads is fun and I like running fleets with 3+ copies of it. But it's not something I tend to include as a default option because it's so dependent on the rest of your fleet.

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  3. What do you think of quad batteries as an alternative to LTT? Munifs love hanging out at speed 1 and 2 and it shaves a couple points as well as helping w/ accuracies vs flots and skirmishers.

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    Replies
    1. I've tried it and it does okay but it's not as universally good as LTTs. Rerolls on all your attacks (including flak and salvo) is just so amazingly good.

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    2. Ah true I always forget the bonus to flak since red is such a rare color!

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