Friday, March 4, 2022

More Experimentation

Hey everybody! It’s your friendly neighborhood Truthiness back again. Last time I was writing, I was working on a double Venator SPHA-T fleet that was a little janky, but I thought might have some potential. Well, I’ve gotten a bunch of reps with it and I’m reporting back in. Unfortunately that fleet just isn’t quite scratching the competitive itch for me. Today, I’ll break down the experiences of that previously discussed Tarkin fleet and then talk about the next fleet I’ll be trying out.

Experimenting is fun!

If you need a refresher on my last thought experiment, you can find it here. Let’s start first with what it does well. With the double SPHA-Ts, it can dominate a section of the battlefield, creating very effective overlapping fields of fire. It shines against medium ships, such as the Acclamator and the Munificent. The large number of blues in the dice pool meant that I hardly ever went without at least one accuracy. They were similarly effective against larges. When working together, they could melt a large base in short order, especially when one of them could manage a double arc. The squad ball also won me over in its screening role. Kickback and Axe together manage to create a kind of perfect situation for the two generic Deltas, shielding a lot of their worst weaknesses. Axe’s damage mitigation is pretty obvious in his own right, but Kickback also plays a critical role in managing engagements. He keeps the incoming shots on the Deltas more limited, allowing them to stick around longer and use their impressive offensive firepower.

Where the fleet struggles is positioning, which should be pretty obvious. With such a limited number of deployments and GAR's typical bad yaw values, it is prone to being out-deployed pretty badly. You can mitigate this to a degree with objectives and precise maneuver, but you need to be essentially perfect. The biggest vulnerability is the Venator 1, which is prone to knockout shots without access to a defensive retrofit. A large ship, flown well, can box out the Venator 2, which really needs to screen the Venator 1. MSU is also a major struggle for the fleet. SPHA-Ts are certainly lethal against small base ships, as are the Venator 2’s double salvos. That said, seasoned MSU players are used to timing their attacks to swarm a single target. With such limited maneuver options, it’s hard for the Venators to compensate for an MSU swarm piling onto a single ship, once again usually the Venator 1. You’ll take some down with you thanks to the lethality of SPHA-Ts, but not enough to compensate for the loss of the Venator. Finally, while the squadron wing is solid against equal sized or larger enemy squadron balls, it is painfully inefficient against lighter squadron wings. If an opponent is squadless, it is just too expensive for the small amount of damage it can do against ships.

It’s still a surprisingly fun fleet. I’ll keep it in my back pocket for occasional use in store tournaments and other more casual events. But as far as my quest for a new competitive fleet, I think I have enough experience with the fleet now to call it. It’s just not quite up to snuff. So that means it’s on to my next idea. Believe it or not, there was a time I played squad heavy. As befits my contrarian nature, it was back in the wave 1 and 2 days, when squadrons were considered “bad” in competitive play. I won a wave 2 regional with an Independence MC80 and a good stack of B-Wings. There are days I miss that style of play, but I generally don’t really care to fly fleets too similar to popular archetypes. I like the challenge of trying different things. Rebel squadrons aren’t exactly lighting it up anymore, though, so I think it’s time to indulge my old tendencies. Since last year’s VWC, I’ve greatly admired Louis Andre’s squadron heavy fleet from that tournament. I beat it, but it was an absolute bear to grind through. I made an adapted version of my own shortly after playing against it. I’ve continued to revisit and tweak from time to time, but never got it on the board. Here is the latest and great version:

The best sci-fi ship ever made, seen here in no way about to die.

Name: Tench Meiloorun Disease

Faction: Rebel

Commander: Kyrsta Agate

Assault: Most Wanted

Defense: Asteroid Tactics

Navigation: Superior Positions

Assault Frigate Mk2 B (72)

• Kyrsta Agate (20)

• Toryn Farr (7)

• Flight Controllers (6)

• Expanded Hangar Bay (5)

• Reinforced Blast Doors (5)

• Linked Turbolaser Towers (7)

= 122 Points

CR90 Corvette A (44)

• Hondo Ohnaka (2)

• Turbolaser Reroute Circuits (7)

• Liberator (2)

• All fighters, Follow Me! (5)

= 60 Points

CR90 Corvette A (44)

• Ahsoka Tano (2)

• Turbolaser Reroute Circuits (7)

• Jaina's Light (2)

= 55 Points

GR-75 Medium Transports (18)

• Leia Organa (3)

• Parts Resupply (3)

• Boosted Comms (4)

= 28 Points


• Lando Calrissian (23)

• Jan Ors (19)

• Ketsu Onyo (22)

• Biggs Darklighter (19)

• 3 x X-wing Squadron (39)

• Gold Squadron (12)

= 134 Points

Total Points: 399

With so many X-Wings, and the presence of Biggs and Gold Squadron, the name is a call back to the “Trench Run Disease” of the old Rogue Squadron series. Why was Meiloorun thrown in there? Because we like puns and Rebels, ok? The anchor of the fleet is unquestionably the Assault Frigate with Agate in the command chair. This was the element that really stuck out to me last year. I honestly think this ship might actually be as durable as an Agate Liberty, and much more flexible. Key to that durability is the ability to double up on two different damage mitigation tokens depending on the situation. If you’re facing more smalls, the ability to double up on evades brushes off a lot of damage while maintaining Agate’s “break glass for emergency” for the brace. If you’re going up against larger dice pools, you can double up on braces instead. The Assault Frigate’s preference for broadsiding is also helpful for survival, as it can kite pretty well if needed. Its role is to be the tip of the spear for the squad fight. You want it right in the middle of the squadron action, commanding squads, dishing out LTT flak (situation depending), and providing Toryn re-rolls for both the squad on squad fight as well as for Gold and Ketsu bombing runs. You might have to disengage at some point, but it’s a very durable and slippery ship.

You thought I'd only have ONE picture of X-Wings being awesome?

My choice of two CR90s instead of two flotillas is the biggest difference between my version and LA’s fleet. I might be legally obligated to run at least two CR90s in Rebel lists at this point. Hold on, let me check my contract. *Shuffles through some papers* Yup, legally obligated. In seriousness, I prefer a more combined arms approach rather than leaning almost exclusively on squadrons for damage. CR90s with TRCs provide a lot of reliable dakka for cheap. They’re prone to getting bullseye in this age of long range haymakers, but I have the anchor of the Assault Frigate and the lethality of the squadrons to give the CR90s some cover. Getting the second CR90 in there in place of a flotilla might seem like a small change, but it really isn't. That change, along with TRCs instead of LTTs on the 90s, shifts the role of the CR90s to a more aggressive ship hunting role rather than the tabling insurance and flak LA used his CR90 for. The second CR90 also allows me to get All Fighters Follow Me into the mix with the Liberator title. That one turn of speed four means a more aggressive squad ball in addition to more aggressive ships. You can see the pattern here: I like the option to be aggressive.

At its core, the squad ball is a pretty standard Rebel Mustache Ride. Biggs and three X-Wings supported by Jan are a very durable and lethal air superiority wing. With AFFM and Flight Controllers, I’ve leaned pretty hard into winning a squad on squad fighter to create space for the bombers. Lando is a nice flexible option, able to go after ships or critical squadrons in equal measure. Believe it or not though, he’s probably the part of the ball I like the least. I have a bad habit of getting him killed after only getting the opportunity to use his ability once. I need to get better at keeping him protected by the X-Wings so that he doesn’t get burned down quickly on a single brace. Still, Lando is probably the first ace I might toss out in favor of something else as I refine this. Yes, I know that’s heresy, but I’ve never been as high on Lando as others are. Ketsu and Gold provide the obvious bombing capability that the squadron wing is a little light on. Ketsu in particular is a favorite of mine. You could toss her ability out entirely and I would still take her. Her combination of Rogue, Grit, two blue bomber dice, and a scatter defense token make her an entirely unique asset that has won me games in the past. Before the advent of Point Defense Ion Cannons, I might have been tempted to take Norra Wexley in place of either Ketsu or Lando. With PDICs running around all over, though, and evades also allowing re-rolls on bombing shots, Norra’s utility I think is no longer of much use.

This day and age I also feel like you need a plan to handle what I call the “speed zero trap”. If you haven’t seen the monster that is Sam’s VWC and LVO fleet, you might want to stand up and pay attention. It is centered around two Interdictors, an Onager, and a boatload of mines. His objectives are brutal. The yellow and the blue are almost certain to give him around a 100+ point scoring advantage. Your options for getting any kind of decent win against him are either out bid him and take second, or find away around Surprise Attack. Between two G7-X Grav Well Projectors and a Grav Shift Reroute, Sam can make Surprise Attack hurt a lot if you’re not prepared. There’s two things you have to overcome. First is the G7-X bubble that will force your flagship to deploy at speed zero. With Cataclysm lined up to take a turn one shot, you obviously can’t stay defenseless at speed zero. You need to expect a turn one nav raid as well. Second, you’ll have to find a way around the mines deployed on top of obstacles that will also be shifted around by the Grav Shift Reroute. Your goals should be to get to at least speed two and get hit by no more than one mine. My plan is Ahsoka and Hondo. Hondo gets me my nav token to clear the inevitable turn one nav raid from Surprise Attack. Sam has to bring his own Hondo to fuel Cataclysm, so I can somewhat rely on getting a token of some kind from Sam’s Hondo. With the first activation, I can clear the nav raid with my nav token, then flip the second token to a nav with Ahsoka. Between that and a nav command, I can get the AF2 up to speed two. Unfortunately I lack double die flak to try and kill an obstructed mine, so I’ll have to have my Assault Frigate kite away from the fight for a chance at survival.

X-Wing picture hat trick! This one in honor of Hera and her favorite fruit.

As with all fleets, there are a number of tools I’ve left in the box because I just didn’t have the space. One thing I really wish I could find room for, and something I may still attempt to work back in at some point, is Adar Talon. With Yavaris being effectively dead (yes, John, it’s dead. Let it go.), Adar is one of the best force multipliers available for Rebels. Lando with Asteroid Tactics and Adar is a mean son of a gun. Ketsu is also a great choice for Adar double taps, amplifying her double bomber dice. Gallant Haven is another choice I wish I could find room to include. My more aggressive approach generally means I’m fighting further out from the Assault Frigate, but it’s still a great upgrade to have when dealing with heavy alpha strikes, such as Sloane. The final choice I’ve made is going without a Bomber Command Center. That significantly limits the reliability of my X-Wings on bombing runs, but I really like the flexibility of Ahsoka and a Resupply upgrade. The Assault Frigate is always starved for tokens, be they nav or repair. I’m currently prioritizing that token flexibility over X-Wing bombing lethality. My calculus is I’ll have the X-Wings focusing mostly on wiping enemy squadrons. If they whiff badly I reserve the right to change back to having BCC.

I have managed one game with this new fleet. Besides squandering Lando, the fleet performed very well. I beat a Plo Koon Republic fleet flown by Maturin 349-130. We were both squadron heavy, making for a very bloody squadron fight and very little actual bombing. Where Maturin’s ships focused on flaking, my TRC90s and Assault Frigate hammered his Venator. Ketsu slipped in for the Venator killshot in turn three’s squad phase, which was the most decisive moment of the game. My squadron chops are clearly a little rusty, but this is definitely a very fun fleet for me to fly so far.



  1. Good to see people are still playing, and trying new things. I've been trying to experiment with Hardcells myself, based on the simple fact that they're the only MSU option Separatists will have for the next few years, at least.

    1. Hardcells are wonderful little ships. I personally had a blast with them in a Grievous fleet. I had a Prov with IF, three TRC Hardcells, and enough disposable vultures to keep the evades coming back. Super fun and thematic fleet.

    2. Managed to win against my friends' Onagher using five Hardcells. Probably best not to use them without a Munificent or something else in a similar vein, but it's enough to convince me that MSU is still a viable option for Separatists at this point.

  2. I'm returning from the game after a hiatus during the pandemic. I'm delighted to see you're still active. The Clone Wars articles have been a big help in coming up with ideas!