Sunday, August 7, 2022

Imperial Venator (Jotto Otts Guest Post)

As mentioned in my previous post, I'm turning over the Imperial Venator to Jotto Otts, who makes our fancy ship cards, helps manage the Chicago Armada group, and also a knowledgeable guy in his own right. Everything he wrote will be in purple, below, and my comments will be in my geek standard blue.

Imperial Venator Star Destroyer

A long time ago, we used to be friends.....

The Imperials get a relic of the past to bring into battles with Rapid Reinforcements I. A Venator II-class Star Destroyer kitted out with massive ordnance bays. The Imperial Venator is a mighty force to be reckoned with if used correctly, but like many imperial ships there are a few drawbacks.

As always, the card!

The Jotto Otts Special! Oooooh so fancy!

The Imperial Venator lies somewhat between the Victory Star Destroyer (VSD) and Imperial Star Destroyer (ISD) in terms of firepower, resiliency, and navigation. It's entirely unique in faction; they've all been mothballed and we only have one left for you to fly.

The Imperial Venator has 2 black 2 blue 2 red in its front arc, 2 blue 2 red on the sides, and 1 black 1 blue 1 red on the rear. This gives you the same side armament of an ISD-II but with the same amount of front dice as a VSD. The Imperial Venator also has a native Salvo token, which makes the rear armament a bit more important. It has a narrower front arc than either the ISD or VSD. This helps you to get double arcs a bit easier, but you sacrifice being able to keep enemies in front. Smaller ships will be able to slip out from the front arc and escape the wrath of the black dice.
However, unlike a GAR Venator, you cannot equip SPHA-Ts to it, so you're limited to the dice printed on your ship and any additional ones you can add with upgrades equipped to your ship.

The Venator has 9 hull points and 4/3/2 shields. That is 2 more shields and one more hull point than a VSD, and 2 hull points less than an ISD with the same shields.

No redundancies in your defense token suite means that your tokens get overheated easily. The VSD and ISD have the redundant redirect, which can help to move some damage to the generous side shields when getting attacked multiple times in a round. The Venator does not really have that luxury, and will be taking hull damage sooner than other Star Destroyers. Engineering is your friend to move shields around.

The Venator’s nav chart is better than the VSD but worse than the ISD. With only a single click of yaw at Speed 3 (probably the preferred speed for this ship), you will want some help from nav dials, Moff Jerjerrod, or other navigational aids.

Efforts, redouble, yada yada

The Venator clocks in at 100 points, which is less than the cheapest ISD. But not a lot less. You will likely end up putting more points into fixing the shortcomings of the Venator than you would save by choosing an ISD.

Based entirely on the "missing" upgrade slots, the Venator does not replace an ISD. It's a lot more focused in its purpose but not as much of a potential "all-arounder" as an ISD.

When the Empire took this Venator out of moth balls, they sacrificed some hangar space for more ordnance. The Imperial Venator has a squad value of only 3. This is enough of a squadron presence to matter, but this Venator does not have any offensive retrofits to improve that. It will only be able to command squads at close to medium range and is limited to activating 3 (4 with token) squads.
This can HELP your squad game, but the Venator should NOT be your primary squadron pusher.

The Empire could not add an Ion slot to this Venator. This ship has blue dice in all 4 arcs but no ion slot to take advantage of those dice. Pity.

The Imperial Venator has 2 Ordnance upgrade slots, but only has black dice in the front and back. This makes your choice of Ordnance upgrades a little less amazing than you think.

In most cases, you will want to take External Racks over any other Ordnance upgrade for the first slot. The opportunity to make the side arc 6 dice and be as powerful as the front arc on a key turn is worth 4 points every time.

For the second ordnance upgrade,you have a little more flexibility in what upgrade you choose. Expanded Launchers is excellent. That upgrade takes the front arc from meh to menacing. Assault Proton Torpedoes, Assault Concussion Missiles, and even dedicated anti-squad upgrades like Ordnance Pods are good choices too. It all depends on how cheap you want to keep the ship.
The upside of the cheapness from the black die crit effects is mitigated by the LACK of black dice in your side arcs. If you're going to get a critical effect to go off, it's either entirely in your front arc or when they're already past you in your rear.

AKA this position

There's only one, and it's the Seventh Fleet title. It actually isn't a bad idea here, as the ~10-20 points you save from an ISD allow you to take other ships with the title to mitigate the damage coming in. The obvious issue of "well what other ships DO I take that want this title" are the same as they are with an ISD, but hey, points!
Enjoy, weirdo Thrawn fanboys

Basic Usage Recommendations
With TWO Ordnance slots, only two red dice, no ability to equip Flak Guns, and a Salvo token, this ship is going to want to get into close range. Its dice are meant to get into close on the front, just to get some good damage going. Unfortunately for you, the faster you're going, the harder that's going to be. You'll likely want to lurk at speed 2 until you go speed 3, and then get going through your opponent as quickly as you can. The longer you and your single tokens remain in range, the faster you're gonna die. It's "sad" that your ship can't just run its way out of trouble, which is something you're going to need to mitigate in its use.

Otherwise, it's much like a lot of other front arc black dice ships in the game. Get into knife fighting range, double arc, and get moving through your opponent's ships quickly. You will not like sustained fire. You on your lonesome (if built right, see the Hate Bear below) are very akin to a Rebel Liberty, with the ability to beat up on small bases very quickly. However, you will not take down a large base on your lonesome (barring better double arcs then they have, of course) and are going to need help. Starhawks especially.

From an outsider's perspective, this ship looks like yet another nail in the Victory's coffin, but points are always crucial. As I've (fish) farmed this article out, look for future updates in this section as desired/needed.

A fleet I've seen multiple times....
Recommended builds

The Hate Bear

Captain Needa, Ordnance Experts, Electronic Countermeasures, External Racks, Expanded Launchers, XI7 Turbolasers

This build combines massive amounts of ordnance dice with XI7 Turbolasers to be able to punch damage through. On a close range shot the front arc can throw up to 11 dice (6 base, 2 for Ex Racks, 2 for Expanded Launchers, 1 for Con Fire). Captain Needa turns your Contain into a more useful Evade token for surviving Onager shots on the approach. And ECM helps you to survive the close up brawls against larger ships. This ship is mean. It’s capable of destroying a healthy Medium ship with a single arc of fire. Send it towards the biggest threat in the enemy fleet and let it go crazy.

The Flak-O-Matic

Agent Kallus, Ordnance Experts, Flechette Torpedoes, Ordnance Pods, Linked Turbolaser Towers

This build keeps the Venator very cheap at 120 points and makes it a dedicated squadron hate machine. The normal flak of this ship combined with Agent Kallus and LTT means that you can throw 5 flak dice at the first unique squadron that’s in your arc. Flechette Torpedoes will activate the enemy squadrons as well, keeping them from leaving. Ordnance Pods will give you an extra shot to toggle one of those squads if you missed it the first time.

The Ven puts the battle in battlecarrier, and will brawl its way through your ships, provided you've lined it up right. In the words of some old space movie, "stay on target..."

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