Given we just caught up to 1.5 compliance in our articles (we were pretty meticulous but if you find something we missed hiding somewhere, please comment and let us know so we can fix it) and we're all caught up on Clone Wars content for now, things have quieted down a bit. Once it's safe to play some board games again I may well do a side project of discussing board games I like and would recommend but clearly that would never be the focus of CGYSO ever. We're here for Armada.
That said, it's been a little while since I did a straightforward opinion piece, and I wanted to discuss kinda where we're at and what's next.
|"Somebody dropped a cherry in my jello salad and nobody is leaving this room until I know who it was!"|
So to summarize: 1.5 and the initial wave of the Clone Wars have hit. We have a new Upgrade Card Collection that has amended text and/or point costs on a number of cards. So far so good. There have been some complaints that it sure would've been great to review and update more of the upgrade cards, specifically the bad ones, to make more upgrades competitive and honestly I agree. That would've been great and it's a missed opportunity. That said, the balance changes have been great and overall I feel like 1.5 is a definite improvement over 1.0.
All that said, Michael Gernes mentioned in some of the spoiler interviews/articles about 1.5 that Armada would definitely be looking to do points updates much like Legion has. In Legion, they have a PDF that updates points costs on various models and upgrade options and the like. FFG updates it about twice a year or so. X-Wing does similarly. With the upgrade card collection just released, I think it's fair to say the appetite for changing points costs on upgrades is nonexistent with FFG (at least for right now). There's likely to be points changes for squadrons and ships, though.
Something to keep in mind: changing the points cost on a given option is fairly easy to do. It's listed in a PDF and quickly updated in various army/fleet builders. It's a pretty smooth way to adjust things and if the people playing kitchen table Armada (or Legion or 40K or whatever) never hear about it or implement it, there's no harm done. Changing the text on a card or cardboard base (whether that be special abilities, keywords, upgrade slots, dice in batteries or flak, shield values, hull values, etc.) is much more disruptive and requires players remember something that's not actually on the table while in the middle of the game. It's not surprising that FFG has historically been pretty averse to errata changes for that reason: their extremely slow response to flotilla spam in waves 4-6 nearly killed the game, as some of you may recall.
Regardless, points changes for squadrons and ships are almost definitely on the menu assuming Atomic Mass Games agrees to stay the course with Armada. I've got some recommendations in that regard, and we'll start with ships. As a general rule I'll be basing recommendations on models that are already well-costed and trying to adjust from there - for example, Acclamators and Munificents are medium-based combat ships that are actually good and worth using, so our waves 1-4 medium based stinkers will be pegged to those rather than one another. I'd prefer to make less-competitive options better rather than make more-competitive things worse, but the nerf bat will still come out to play (and it's coming for you, Testbed Onager). If a ship isn't mentioned, that means it's fine (ain't nothing wrong with the CR90, for an easy example). The goal being more competitive options more good because variety, effectively. It's more fun selecting from a wider option at the competitive buffet when building a fleet.
Arquitens Command Cruiser
59 points to 57 points (-2 points)
This makes it a bit more competitive with the 54 point Arquitens Light Cruiser. Generally if you're running the Command Cruiser you're spending more points to spend more points (on a support team slot or Reactive Gunnery shenanigans nowadays) and it can get pricey quickly. Changing the variant upgrade cost from 5 points to 3 points is minor but should help see the Command on the table a bit more.
62 points to 59 points (-3 points)
Another chassis variant that's rarely seen as the "upgrade" of a black die on each side arc to a red die in the Glad-I to Glad-II transition is actually a downgrade. Better flak is definitely valuable on the Glad-II but at the cost of worse side arcs it's typically made the Gladiator-II a rare sight. If I was allowed to change upgrade slots or other numbers, I'd love to see the Glad-II differentiated more from the Glad-I, but that's outside the scope of this article and what AMG/FFG is likely to do in the near term. Be prepared to hear me gripe about that a bit more later on as there are definitely a number of ship variants that would love just a little change in dice batteries, upgrade slots, or the like to make them a fresh new option but unfortunately have to live in the shadow of their more competitive variants.
Gozanti Assault Carrier
28 points to 25 points (-3 points)
Rarely seen except with Romodi on occasion. 5 points isn't worth it to upgrade your basic Gozanti front arc blue die to a red die and your black flak to a blue flak. The latter is more of a "side-grade" given the extra flak range is nice but going from 75% to 50% chance of 1 damage to squadrons isn't. 2 points might be worth the change-up, though.
Imperial-I class Star Destroyer
110 points to 105 points (-5 points)
I'd love to be able to play with the upgrade slots and/or battery dice on this ship but, again, that's not what we're doing here. The ISD-I compares very poorly to the Kuat which is presently just 2 points more expensive for a much more cohesive package. A 5-point price cut down to 105 makes the cost gap a bit more remarkable and opens up some breathing room for the ISD-I as a specialized turbolaser-equipped knife-fighter and/or a fighty battle carrier.
Imperial-II class Star Destroyer
120 points to 115 points (-5 points)
"Eric's off his rocker if he thinks the most well-rounded ISD needs a points cut!" Hear me out first, I promise this makes sense. Back in 1.0 times the ISD-II was probably the closest you got to a default ISD as it did a little bit of everything well. The problem with the ISD-II in 1.5 is all the standard upgrades it used to rely on have been nerfed: Electronic Countermeasures requires repair tokens to ready, Gunnery Team only works with a concentrate fire command, Leading Shots is 2 more points, and XI7 Turbolasers got a slight nerf and H9 Turbolasers became a Modification. Everything that used to be part of the standard ISD-II kit is worse now, basically. A 5 point cut is just recognizing that the ISD-II is still good but you need to work a fair bit harder to make it as good as it used to be.
Interdictor Suppression Refit
90 points to 80 points (-10 points)
The point of comparison in this case being the Munificent. Is an Interdictor better than a 70 point Munificent? Sure. It's got slightly better durability (-3 shields but +3 hull and 2 contain tokens instead of a salvo token), 1 more die in the sides and the rear, and Engineering 5 instead of 4. It's also good at delivering blue crit effects and it's got some of the cost of its experimental retrofits baked into its cost. It's also got -1 Squadron value, worse flak (blue vs. red), no turbolaser slot, worse long-range attacks, and a worse speed 2 nav chart. So again, it's better than a Munificent but it's not twenty points better. 80 points is much more manageable. We'll be seeing similar generosity with other medium combat ships now that we have good medium combat ships as a basis for comparison.
Interdictor Combat Refit
93 points to 79 points (-14 points)
Another ship I'd love to change some dice and/or upgrade slots on but not allowed. In short, the Combat Refit is the less upgrade-hungry alternative to the Suppression Refit although it gives up one experimental retrofit slot and better odds of triggering blue crit effects in exchange for better flak (blue+blak vs. blue) and better long-ranged batteries (swapping a blue for a red). Even making it one point cheaper than the Suppression Refit I'm not sure we'd see this often but I'm willing to try.
96 points to 106 points (+10 points)
Turns out being able to attack from two range rulers away is pretty good and as part of the playtest team for wave 8 I'd like to officially apologize because the Onager is stupid. Onager-class Star Destroyer is on probation but likely deserves a nerf batting to a lesser degree.
61 points to 58 points (-3 points)
FFG has a noted tendency to overprice the more expensive chassis variants and the Quasar-II is no exception. The Quasar-II is arguably an improvement over the Quasar-I with swapped-in red dice for its batteries (2 in the front and one in the sides) and flak die but it loses an offensive retrofit slot for a second weapon team slot to do so, making it a worse carrier. Threading the needle of being a combat asset but not getting knocked out is the Quasar-II's lot in life and it should be a bit cheaper as compensation, making it only 4 points pricier than the -I rather than 7.
44 points to 42 points (-2 points)
Not a huge change here but an acknowledgement that Raiders are a bit tough to use well and the very similar points cost to the much more user-friendly CR90A and Charger Consular didn't often look great for our favorite little angry triangle friend. Raider-Is are clearly superior to Torpedo Hammerheads or Consular Class Armed Cruisers but probably not by 7 or 8 points.
48 points to 44 points (-4 points)
A more substantial points cut here that brings the Raider-II into contention with the 39 point CR90B. Is a Raider-II better than a CR90B? Probably. Raider-IIs have an extra black die in the front and better flak (black+blue vs. blue). But the CR90B's 2 blue sides (versus black+blue) make it easier to trigger ion crits out the side arcs and the CR90B has a superior nav chart at all but speed 2. The only thing keeping the Raider-II competitive right now is access to an offensive retrofit slot for Disposable Capacitors and a weapon team slot for Weapon Battery Techs, but those upgrades are also more points (8 to be precise). It's also easy to note that the CR90B has a support team and defensive retrofit slot which are occasionally (Engine Techs) pretty important. Dropping the Raider-II to 44 points compared to a CR90B's 39 feels about right to me.
Star Dreadnought Command Prototype
220 points to 195 points (-25 points)
The Command SSD wasn't even good when the Assault SSD had its brief moment in the spotlight before wave 8 slammed the door on its toes. While I do enjoy the Command SSD in large games, it has always been a bit too pricey to do well in 400 point games. Given 1.5 has been a bit rough on SSDs in general, a decent points cut (around 11%) feels warranted here given it wasn't great before and it's worse now.
Star Dreadnought Assault Prototype
250 points to 235 points (-15 points)
Again, SSDs are struggling a bit now between Starhawks, Onagers, and the 1.5 update making some of their toys not work as well as they used to. The Assault doesn't need the help as much as the Command, so the discount is less. It's still the premier "I have one giant ship loaded up with toys and it's going to ruin your day" SSD variant.
Victory-I class Star Destroyer
73 points to 68 points (-5 points)
The point of comparison here is the similar Acclamator-I. The Acclamator-I clocks in at 66 points with a similar profile to the VSD-I. It has 1 worse front battery, same shields (but 2 in the rear and sides is in my opinion a bit worse than 3 everywhere but the rear, which has 1), 1 worse hull, but it's speed 3 with a slightly better nav chart at speeds 2 and 3 (which the VSD doesn't do at all) and has an extra offensive retrofit slot. The Acclamator also swaps out a redirect for a salvo, which is probably overall better than double redirects but it's roughly a wash. Double-black flak on the Acclamator is also better than the anemic 1 blue flak on the VSD. So is the VSD-I better than the Acclamator-I? It's hard to say. The Acclamator wins out as a battle carrier with double offensive retrofit slots, it has salvo, it has two black flak, and it can go up to speed 3. It's a bit behind the VSD in terms of durability and its front and rear batteries are slightly worse. It's nearly equivalent, in my opinion with the VSD-I slightly better, but just slightly.
Victory-II class Star Destroyer
85 points to 75 points (-10 points)
The VSD-II has been horribly overpriced since wave one and was briefly brought into relevance in wave 6 with Disposable Capacitors before it was buried forever by the Cymoon and Onager in the next two waves. There isn't a good direct comparison with other medium ships but keeping it 5 points cheaper than the Suppression Interdictor feels right, as the Interdictor deals slightly worse damage output when double arcing compared to a double-arcing VSD but comes with two experimental retrofit slots and a slightly better nav chart.
Assault Frigate Mk-IIA
81 points to 75 points (-6 points)
The comparison point here again being the Munificent, this time the 73-point Star Frigate, which has a lot of similarities to the Assault Frigate A. The main differences being the Munificent has a better speed 2 nav chart but no speed 3 option at all, the Munificent's flak is red+black compared to double-blue, the Assault Frigate gets a weapon team slot instead of a support team slot, and the Munificent has a salvo defense token instead of an evade. The dice batteries are very similar, only the Munificent has more in the front and the Assault Frigate has them in the sides. The Assault Frigate is likely the better overall ship but it's clearly not 8 points better, so cost reduced to 75 points, putting it on par with the new VSD-II.
Just to get this out of the way: I actually think the Assault Frigate B is doing fine right now and compares well to both Munificent variants. I could see an argument for cutting its cost by 1 or 2 points but it's the only medium combat ship from earlier in the game that seems to have held up all right. Speed 3 and a very flexible upgrade bar have done pretty well for it.
GR-75 Medium Transports
18 points to 21 points (+3 points)
Whoever greenlit an 18 point support ship with a scatter token at FFG has hopefully been seriously reprimanded. Flotillas in general are undercosted and back when they could be spammed it broke the game. With the regular 23-point Gozanti as a benchmark, a 21 point GR-75 is still doing fine, retaining a better nav chart and the same flak while losing the one blue die front and side batteries Gozantis get use out of occasionally. It also makes the upgrade to the GR-75 Combat Refits only 3 points, which is much more palatable than the ridiculous 6 point ask they were before.
Hammerhead Scout Corvette
41 points to 39 points (-2 points)
Our comparison ships here are the 44 point Rebel CR90A and the 45 point Republic Consular Charger C70. Both of the comparison ships go up to speed 4 and have superior side and rear batteries. The Consular in particular is extremely instructive in this comparison given it has identical defense tokens and an identical to superior nav chart (up through speed 3, obviously, the Hammerhead doesn't go speed 4). The Consular equals or exceeds the Scout in every way except it has black flak instead of blue and 4 hull instead of 5 (but it should be noted the Consular has 2 more shields). The only upgrade difference is the Scout has a weapon team slot and the Charger has a support team slot. The Scout weapon team is rarely used, unfortunately, as if you want to use a boarding team you go for the Torpedo Hammerhead that is cheaper and wants to be in close anyways and there aren't any regular weapon teams, barring weird John Ruthless Strategist Leia builds, that go well there. The Task Force titles are what really help the Hammerheads in general but especially the Scouts and those are nice but also more points. They also restrict Hammerheads to fleets with 3+ Hammerheads which can be a bit tough when they're so close in cost to superior corvette options that do fine on their own.
In short (too late), for a 3 or 4 point difference the Hammerhead Scout doesn't come off well in comparison to other long-ranged corvettes in its own faction or out-of-faction. It has some uses in a gunline (I've run them this way successfully) but it could stand a bit of a discount and bringing it down a smidge to 39 points seems fair.
(Liberty)MC80 Star Cruiser
96 points to 90 points (-6 points)
It's tough directly comparing the Liberty to much of anything. There's a superficial resemblance to Imperial-class Star Destroyers but the Liberty is lacking some of the raw stats and upgrade slots necessary to really stack up compared to them on the table. There's also the fact that it's the only non-Testbed-Onager large ship that can go up to speed 4 with Engine Techs (and the Onager in that case is usually using it to escape, not to keep after enemies). If a Victory-class Star Destroyer is a "heavy medium," the Liberty MC80 is a "light large" if you get where I'm coming from. It's a weird ship. Unfortunately, it's also a ship that a large number of Rebel players hate using and that's because it's a bit too expensive given how fragile it is. With our medium combat ships in the 70-80 point range after adjustments, setting the base LMC80 at 90 points feels about right - it will win brawls against medium or small ships and retains the speed to bully them but will come off poorly against serious muscle, especially other large ships.
(Liberty)MC80 Battle Cruiser
103 points to 94 points (-9 points)
The Battle Cruiser presently pays a hefty 7 points to replace one blue die in the front and rear arc of the Star Cruiser with a red die and to go from 1 to 2 black flak dice. It's another one of those chassis variants where there really isn't enough differentiating the two and I'd love to be able to tweak some stats or upgrade slots around but that's not on the menu so we're left with points adjustments. Anyways, I'd spend 4 points for extra black flak and swapping a blue die in front and back for a red so that's where we're at: 94 points.
Nebulon-B Support Refit
51 points to 46 points (-5 points)
The Nebulon-B Support Refit has traditionally struggled to define a role for itself within the Rebel lineup. Ideally it's a Rebel gunship that snipes from long range and takes punches back at its 3 shields face with an evade and double brace, which is very tanky for a small ship. Practically, getting attacks in on its sides is not too tough to do and without a redirect it can struggle. Plus when you've got a CR90A available for 44 points and it can double-arc for at least 3 total red dice and gets 5 at medium without the potentially catastrophic "oops, they found my sides" moment, a lot of Rebel players leave Neb-Bs, especially the Support Refit, at home. With only points adjustments available to fix it, the goal is to put it somewhere it can compete with CR90As. Ideally the Neb would be preferred for a gunline/sniper function and the CR90A for skirmishing and flanking. I personally would give it more consideration around 46 points - a bit more than the 90A but close enough and still a "deluxe" version of the Scout Hammerhead. With titles like Salvation and Vanguard available, I could definitely see one or two sniper Nebs in support of larger ships at a price cut.
Nebulon-B Escort Frigate
57 points to 52 points (-5 points)
The Escort Frigate, or let's be honest: the Yavaris frigate, was traditionally buoyed in 1.0 by its iconic and faction-defining title. Now that Yavaris has descended to Earth to dwell with us mere mortals, the Neb-B Escort Frigate wouldn't mind a bit of help as it suffers from the same problems the Support Refit does but comes with the benefit of Squadron 2 and double-blue flak. The same 5 point discount given to the Support Refit feels appropriate.
Pelta-class Assault Ship
56 points to 50 points (-6 points)
The Assault Pelta has always been a bit of an odd duck. It actually draws comparisons with the Imperial Gladiator-class Star Destroyer, oddly enough, at the same 56 point cost: same hull, same shields, same defense tokens, nearly-identical upgrade slots (the Pelta gets a fleet command slot in exchange for the Glad's weapon team slot), and the same nav chart for speeds 1 and 2 (as the Pelta lacks speed 3). The Pelta's side arcs (red+black) are anemic compared to the Glad's (4 black), however, and it only really surpasses the Glad-I with its two red rear dice (compared to black+red) and blue+black flak (compared to one blue). Being Squadron 1 and Engineering 4 compared to rarely-used Squadron 2 and sometimes-used Engineering 3 is I suppose a slight benefit to the Pelta but not by much.
In short, the Assault Pelta kinda sucks. It's a ship that doesn't have much function besides a fleet support slot (which can be very good!) and being a close-ranged ship that's only speed 2 and can't take Ordnance Experts to help it out when it succeeds at actually getting there. That said, flinging some red dice on the cheap with a fleet support and some "I'll bite" black dice isn't bad as a general concept provided it's priced properly. For me I'd put that price at right around 50 points.
Pelta-class Command Ship
60 points to 56 points (-4 points)
The Command Pelta is a much less confused ship than the Assault and much easier to use. Squadron 3 and blue dice replacing the black dice make it viable as a cost-effective carrier and/or long-ranged harassment while it uses its fleet command. That said, it's still just a bit too pricey for the tastes of many Rebel players given its low speed and deserves a small points cut.
The end (for now)
That's it for ships. I'll get to squadrons probably in a few days. Invariably, my recommendations may have gone too far or not far enough for the tastes of different people and that's fine.
I wanted to briefly discuss the Starhawk and why it isn't on here. The short version is: the Starhawk has a bad design. You see it with Agate or not at all and the only reason not to spring for the Starhawk-II over the -I is because you want one of the variant-linked titles that only work on the Starhawk-I. Fixing that with points changes gets really weird because if you price it without Agate, it should be cheaper. If with her, it might merit a price increase (which likely means it should've been cheaper and Agate more expensive). If the Starhawk suddenly takes the meta by storm I suppose you'd need to
up its cost and assume it's only being brought with Agate but that
makes it even less desirable for other commanders, where it's already a
very rare sight. Honestly I would really prefer to see the Starhawk rebuilt from the ground up so it's not relying on Agate to keep it functional.
On a similar note, that's also my long-term preference. Some kind of 1.5 ship update pack with new cards and cardboard. Given we now have ship keywords with the Clone Wars ships I figure that kind of thing is a year or two down the pipe at the earliest but needed eventually, as we'll need to get the Galactic Civil War ships their own updated cards with keywords regardless as keyword-linked upgrades or objectives or whatnot become more common. I'd love to see some more differentiation of variants where FFG has traditionally been too conservative, like on the Glad-II or the LMC80 Battle Cruiser or the like.