Friday, August 14, 2015

I've Got A Problem Here...Deciding Which Astromech Your Rebel Pilot Should Take, Part 2

                As promised, here is the second half of the Astromechs in the X-wing Miniatures game. So let's jump right in and discuss the R5 and R7 series.

R5 Astromech - 1 Point
                The R5 is our second generic droid in the game and a great one at that. His ability of turning ship-based criticals facedown can be a real game changer. An R5 unit may be the difference between dying right then or staying around just a little longer to dish some back at the enemy. There are 33 cards in the damage deck and 25 of them have the Ship title. Of those only 6 aren't fixable by R5 because they take immediate effect. This means that equipping an R5 unit gives you a 58% chance of not suffering the effects of a critical damage.
                If you pair R5 with the Determination talent then that number jumps up to 82% and adds a 24% chance of not taking hull damage. I love running this combo with a Hull upgrade on Ace X-wings (there is a reason R5 comes in Wedge's expansion). It's worth it to put on generic X-wings as well. It can be a pressure-reliever on yourself to have your squad fitted with R5s and not have to worry about random criticals ruining your gameplay. R5 on an X-wing means you won't lose valuable attack dice, take damage from your own K-turn, or lose your precious focus token from a damaged console. And if a Direct Hit lands on your first hull then R5 can actually reduce it back to only one damage!
                Since R5's ability only affects hull points you don't want to take him on an E-wing. On the flip side, however, this doesn't make the Y-wing a great choice. The Y has such a low damage mitigation that the enemy can rip through your 5 hull before R5 even has a chance to take effect. It would benefit you more to give your Y-wing a boost in movement or agility.

R5-D8 - 3 Points
                D8 is the game's repair droid and works really well against two Ties in a Beginner game. However, once you move onto Standard games D8 becomes vastly underpowered. There are so many guns in a 100 point match that actions really become pivotal. So it is not cost effective to give up your action and roll a chance die to repair. If you want a repair ability then it is much more cost effective to pay for R2-D2. For just 1 more point you get a guaranteed shield recharge and it doesn't cost your action.
                Honestly, the only viable application I have seen of D8 in the Standard game is when you fly him with Jek Porkins. This pilot can remove stress automatically but there is a chance he will damage his own ship. If that happens then we have a unique opportunity: using D8 isn't really isn't a waste of an action because you normally wouldn't have that action in the first place! And if Jek doesn't damage his own ship he is free to use that action for a focus. The combo is powerful because the numbers are in your favor. Jek only has a 38% chance of hurting his X-wing but if he does then D8 has a 63% chance of repairing the damage. If you do repair then you don't get the free action but the stress is still gone and the X-wing isn't limited in its movement next turn. If Jek receives a damage and D8 fails then it kinda stinks but there is only a 14% chance of this happening. So if you love riding the edge of disaster to get better performance then this is the combo for you.
                Not only is this paring effective, it is also iconic. D8 is the droid that Porkins has in the movies and comics. In dogfights before Epsiode 4, Jek was an amazing pilot that pulled risky stunts to beat the enemy and had D8 to back him up. However his luck ran out during the Battle of the First Death Star. In a strafing run with Biggs, Jek's ship was pelted by shrapnel from the surface. Jek tried to keep control of his stressed-out ship but in the process he damaged his own engines. D8 wasn't able to fix the problem in time and the sluggish X-wing was caught by turbo laser fire. But even in death he still helped save the day. He protected Biggs who in turn protected Luke and the rest is history.
                As for the general game, I would love to see this repair droid have more possibilities for competitive use. The best fix for it, in my opinion, would be to eliminate the chance. In a reprint of D8 I would make him read "Your Action Bar receives the Repair Action" and include a new rule card. The action would simply be to discard one facedown damage card. This would put D8 on the same playing field as R2-D2: if you fulfill a parameter, you get the reward. And the comparative cost of the droids would match that of the Hull Upgrade to the Shield Upgrade. It would also be nice if the droid were generic, that way multiple ships in a squad could have repair abilities.

R5-K6 - 2 Points
                K6 is another droid that is currently underpowered in the meta game. At the time of Wave 1, K6 was a great droid and his ability made sense. If you wanted to fire your torpedoes effectively you had to get a target lock, not use it, then pair it next round with a focus for a great shot. However, if you took K6 then you had a 38% chance of using your target lock and still keeping it for next round. But this ability was overshadowed when the B-wing brought the Fire Control system, which provides a 100% chance of keeping your target lock. Since the FCS and K6 cost the same amount of points we know that the droid is now underpowered in the game.
                So what kind of fix does K6 need? We could just make it simple by eliminating the chance and making K6 have a guaranteed target lock. However, this just makes him the FCS for astromechs and creates a boring repeat ability. We need something to give K6 some individualism and make it tempting to pick an astromech slot over a system. My suggestion is to keep the chance the same but make the reward bigger. Have a reprint card read: "When you acquire a target lock on an enemy ship, roll 1 defense die. On an evade result acquire a second target lock. That target lock may be used this round." Essentially, K6 would now give a 38% chance of getting two target locks and thus allow you to fire a modified torpedo right then.
                Not only would this bring K6 back up to playing level, it would add some spice to the dull ordnance play in the meta. And it would provide some iconic application. In the Star Wars universe K6 is Garven Dreis's droid. You might know him as Red Leader from the Battle of the First Death Star. However K6's ability doesn't really make sense when applied to this battle. Garven locked onto the port vent of the Death Star but after he fired he didn't need to reacquire another target lock. If K6's ability were to provide a second, modifying target lock then it would add to the lore. Garven would've had the perfect shot and yet he still missed. While on the other hand a farm boy in tune with the force made the shot with a Deadeye focus. Moreover, Garven's ability in game means that you never want to take a target lock. With the help of a new K6, Garven could take 2 locks to use in the coming rounds then take focuses for his next actions to help his allies.

R5-P9 - 3 Points
                P9 is a decent droid and pretty straight forward. If you have a focus left over during the end phase he can turn it into a shield recharge. He works really well when paired with allies like Kyle or Garven who can help make sure he has that leftover focus. The only thing I will say about this droid is that I wish he was generic rather than unique. A squad of Rookies each with a P9 could help bring X-wings back to the competitive table.

R7 Astromech - 2 Points
                The R7 astromech is the last generic droid on our list. In the lore the R7 was actually designed by Alliance engineers specifically for the E-wings. And in the Miniatures world the droid does work well with the E-wing, especially when paired with a FCS. It is also a great combo when paired with Tarn Mison's ability, allowing him to use his free target lock for defense.
                But the main reason why I love the R7 unit is because it adds to the Target Lock Action. The reroll of a target lock gives you around the same benefit offensively as a focus. Because of this most people only take a lock when they need to fire ordnance or when they don't have a shot and want to save it for next round. But R7 adds a fun change. A defensive target lock can be use in 360 degrees, even if your ship can only fire forward. And a ship with R7 can take a target lock for offense, then switch it over for defense if they get outmaneuvered.
                Another great twist is the application of the rules on dice modification. They state that when a defender modifies the dice of the attacker it happens before the attacker's own modification. This means that you can use R7 to interrupt an attack and waste an opponent's attack modification points. Suppose you get shot by a HLC and the attacker gets 2 hits. If he has a target lock, Lone Wolf, or Predator reroll then he has a good chance of boosting that attack. But before he can modify you can spend your defense target lock and reroll all of his dice. On average your reroll will produce a dice result that is the same as, or worse, than the original. And dice can only be rerolled once so now the attacker has no way of improving his result. Just like with R4, you have wasted enemy upgrades dedicated to offense. And since R7 is generic that means you can take a whole squad of 'em.

R7-T1 - 3 Points
                His nickname is RT in the books yet most players refer to him as the Boost Droid. If used correctly he can provide you an engine boost and a target lock every turn. However, his ability does require a hard set of parameters to be filled.
                Here's the secret to using RT: he is a pilot skill grab. If you place him on a high PS ship and your enemy has lower pilots, he will terrorize them. But if you are against a higher pilot ship then RT won't help you. This is because the ability can only be activated after you move. If you are the highest skill pilot on the board then you can fly into enemy arcs and boost in for the kill or boost out of their shot. Either way you are safe because you know that the enemy ships have already moved. Logically, it is the exact opposite when your ship has the lower pilot skill. You can boost in for the kill but the enemy will move away and you can try to boost to safely but the enemy will follow right behind you.
                So if you take RT be sure to back him up with high pilot skill. He works really well on Luke, Wedge, or Corran with Veteran Instincts. Horton is another good pilot to pair with because the droid gives the slow Y-wing a big advancement in maneuverability. However, be extra careful with this combo because Horton can't take VI and will be vulnerable to enemy aces. If you do want to use Horton, or any lower pilot skill ship, then run RT alongside with Intelligence Agents. That way you can know enemy movements and can better judge when to use your boost action. With any of the aces you pick also consider giving them a torpedo. It is really easy to take a target lock, boost out from an enemy attack, and save the lock for another round. Have fun experimenting with this unique ability.

                And there you have it. 12 different droids but only 1 slot per ship. Which of these droids will you pick? Which is your favorite? Let me know in the comments. I hope you enjoyed this analysis and learned something new. Have fun shopping for droids!

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